Since charter schools are independently managed, interested families need to contact charter schools individually to find out about their admissions’ process and to apply for your child. You can locate charter school information through our school finder. Keep in mind that there may not be a charter school in your area, and if there is, it may not serve your child’s grade or it may have reached its full enrollment capacity. Most charter schools open with a single grade, then grow by one grade per year.

From October 1 – April 1, you can use the Charter Center’s free Common Online Charter School Application to find and apply to schools near you. Through the Common Online Charter School Application, families can also apply to multiple schools at once by just filling out one form.

2 - Typical Process of Charter Enrollment

January - March

  1. Research and visit schools
  2. Complete & Submit Applications

April - May

  1. Admissions lotteries conducted
  2. Parents receive notification

May - June

  1. Parents complete the enrollment process

August - September

School begins 


No. Charter schools are free and open to all children, regardless of their academic skills or needs. There are never any tests, interviews or transcripts required to apply to a charter school. Charter schools must admit students on a first-come, first-served basis. However, when more students apply than there are seats available, charter schools are required to hold random admissions lotteries.

This depends on the individual school and the grade levels they serve. Pre-K (UPK) is the earliest entry point for some charter schools, but most begin in Kindergarten. Typically children must turn 4-years-old by December 1 of the year they are admitted to a Pre-K program and must turn 5-years-old by December 31 of the year they are admitted to Kindergarten. Check with the individual school you are applying to for more information.

Yes. Families can apply separately to as many charter schools as they want. Please note, by law NYC charter schools must give preference to students who live within the Community School District (CSD) where the charter school is located. Families can find out which CSD they reside in by typing in their address on our Find a Charter School page. Families can apply to multiple schools at once through the Charter Center’s Common Online Charter School Application from October 1 – June 30 only.

Yes, although schools must give admissions preference to students located in their CSD, there is typically room to admit students outside of their district.

Each school sets its own application deadline, but most schools require that applications be in before April 1 for a child’s placement in August/September of the new school year. Families can still apply after April 1 though. If there are still seats available in the school, students will be admitted on a rolling basis. Families should inquire with individual schools about their deadlines. The Charter Center does not accept applications.

The lottery is an admissions process required by New York State law that is held when there are more student applications to a charter school than seats available. The lottery randomly selects from all applicants for admission. Students who are not selected in the lottery will be placed on a waiting list for spaces that may become available in the future.

Each school sets its own lottery date. Most school admission lotteries are held in April for placement in the fall of that same year. Students who seek admission after the lottery date may be placed on the waiting list. If there are vacancies and no waiting list, then seats are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Yes. Charter schools are required to offer a lottery preference to siblings of enrolled students and to students who reside in the local Community School District (CSD). Families can find their CSD at www.nyccharterschools.org/charter-school-search. Charter schools may also offer preferences for students who are academically at risk, including those from low-income families, English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and children of school staff. Charter school staff preference is limited to 15% of the school’s entire student body. Lottery preferences vary by charter school.

No, your child does not need to be present for the application submission or the lottery. Charter schools will contact families to alert them to their acceptance and to begin the enrollment process.

Charter schools will contact families directly with either a letter or a phone call (or both) to let them know their child has been accepted. Families will then be required to contact the school in order to confirm they want to accept the seat and enroll their child.

No, students who are enrolled in a charter school will be able to remain there in future years. Families must let the school know that they plan to return each year.

Siblings of children in charter schools must still apply to a charter school. They will, however, receive preference in the lottery and are likely to get in if there is space in the school.

No. Charter schools are independent from one another. If families want to move their child from one charter school to another charter school, they will need to go through the application process for the new school they wish to move to.

No. Any time a child moves from one school to another, families have to go through the enrollment process required by the next school. However, if a school provides elementary grades at one site and middle school grades at another site, that child will have the right to move to the middle school from the elementary school.

The Charter Center map feature allows you to search for schools near your home address, in your Community School District, by borough and more. Find a Charter School now.