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 timeline of the enrollment process

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. They must take children on a first-come, first-served basis. However when more children apply than there are seats available, charter schools hold random admissions lotteries.

Yes. However, a majority of charter schools provide only English as a Second Language (ESL) support. Parents should speak directly to school leaders to get a better understanding of the instructional strategies their schools use to support the academic growth of English Language Learners.

Yes, charter schools work to meet the goals and objectives outlined in students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEP). However, just as with district schools, not every charter school provides an appropriate placement for every child. A majority of charter schools have appropriate placements and programs for children with less restrictive environments written into their special education program, while some offer a wider array of placements and services.

This depends on the individual schools and the grade levels they serve. Kindergarten is the earliest entry point for charter schools; typically children must turn 5-years-old by December 31 of the year they are admitted.

Each school has its own application process. Interested students must apply directly to the school. There are typically several ways in which families can acquire an application:

  1. Visit the school’s website and download an application or apply online, if available.
  2. Call the school and ask them to mail you an application. You can then fax or mail back the application in advance of the deadline.
  3. Use the Charter Center’s school search to learn more about a school.
  4. Apply to school’s through the Charter Center’s Common Online Charter School Application.

Once you have identified the schools you are interested in applying to, we recommend you call the school directly to ensure you clearly understand their admissions process.

Yes. You can apply separately to as many charter schools as you want. Please note, however, that by law NYC charter schools must give preference to students who live within the community school district (CSD) where the charter school is located. You can find out which CSD you belong to with our school search. You can apply to multiple schools at once through the Charter Center’s Common Online Charter School Application from October 1 – April 1 only.

Yes, although, as mentioned above, schools give admissions preference to students located in their CSD and many charter schools have long waiting lists of students who live within the CSD.

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. As some schools have earlier deadlines, you 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 are 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. The law requires charter schools to give preference to returning students, siblings of students already enrolled in the school and students who reside in the Community School District in which the charter school is located. Charter schools are also permitted to give preferences for students at-risk of academic failure. As a result, some schools give preferences for students who are English Language Learners, while other schools give preferences for students who are eligible for free or reduced price lunch. Still others have preferences for students who did not score at the proficient level on the state tests.

No, your child does not need to be present for the application submission or the lottery.

The charter school will contact the family directly with either a letter or a phone call to let you know if your child has been accepted. You will then be required to contact the school in order to finalize the enrollment.

No, students who are accepted through the lottery will be enrolled in the school and be able to remain there in future years. Parents 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 you would like to move your child to another charter school, you will need to go through the application process for the school to which you wish to move.

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 that 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 by your Community School District (CSD), address, and borough. Click here to visit our charter school search.