What is a Charter School Enrollment Lottery?

Posted by BASIS.ed on September 13, 2017 at 12:55 PM

The lingo associated with applying to charter schools can sometimes be overwhelming. What is Open Enrollment? What is a lottery? What is a waitlist? We're here to help you navigate the process. This article will focus on lotteries, but you should check out our Open Enrollment and waitlistposts as well!

How do Charter Schools Pick Who Gets in?

If you read the Open Enrollment blog, you know that charter schools do not have any academic or financial admissions requirements. So how do they choose? Publically funded charter schools often use a lottery system to determine offers. This may be a requirement, depending on the state.

Have you ever entered a free raffle? One where everyone puts his or her name into a hat and the winner is chosen at random? This is a simple example of how charter school lotteries work.


During the Open Enrollment period, anyone who applies to a school is entered into an applicant pool. Once Open Enrollment closes, a lottery is then run to determine who will be given an offer to attend the school. The amount of offers that are extended is determined based off the amount of seats that school has available for the school year.

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For example, if the school has budgeted for 60 students in grade 1, and receives 60 applications for grade 1 during open enrollment, all 60 students will get an offer to attend the school. However, in our same hypothetical situation, if there are more than 60 applications, the first 60 people drawn in the lottery will receive offers and any additional applicants will be put on a waitlist. Read more about waitlists here.

Common Misconceptions about Lotteries

  • Depending on your state, charter schools are allowed to place priorities within their lotteries. These priorities cannot be contingent on income, race, or academic abilities. Many times the main goal of a priority is so that siblings of current students have better odds of receiving an offer. 
  • Charter schools do not extend offers based on a first come first served basis during the lottery. Offers are given out randomly as are positions on the waitlist during the lottery.  

What happens if you're put on the waitlist? Read our waitlist article to learn more about what waitlists are and what your chances of getting in after being put on a waitlist are.

Still have questions? Reach out to our enrollment department at (480) 696-3997 
or enrollment@BASISed.com.

Topics: For Parents

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