Wisconsin Parental Choice Program
About the WPCP
Lakeside Lutheran High School is part of the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP). For students selected by the state, families receive a voucher that pays their students' Lakeside tuition in full. The open application period for the statewide Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP) for the 2019-2020 school year begins February 1 and runs through April 20, 2019.
Lakeside is in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program. This is both for students who transfer to Lakeside from a public high school and will be in grades 10-12 and for 9th graders first enrolling at Lakeside in 2019-2020.
There are two other choice programs in Wisconsin. However, they are for parts of the state from which Lakeside does not draw students.
Is Your Family Eligible for Parental Choice?
To meet the income requirements for the program a student’s family must have an Adjusted Gross Income at or below 220% of the federal poverty level with an additional $7,000 allowed for a married couple as illustrated in the table below. 2019-2020 Adjusted Gross Income limits are shown below:
|2||$35,728||- - -|
*Add $9,504 for each additional family member above 6
**Family Income is the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) on 1040 tax form
(A clarification: when a married couple applies for a Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP) voucher for their child, $7,000 is SUBTRACTED from their adjusted gross income before comparing it to the income chart. This is considered a benefit to married parents. The rightmost column on the above chart shows the 2-parent household income for eligibility under the income limits.)
What Does This Mean for Your Family?
Who gets picked for a voucher through WPCP?
Students who receive a voucher through the WPCP to attend Lakeside may renew the voucher in following years. The subsequent applications are much simpler: only residency verification is needed.
9th grade is considered an "entry point" in the program. This means all incoming 9th graders who meet the income criteria are eligible to be picked. The cap for vouchers in the 2019-2020 school year is 4% of the school district’s total enrollment where the family resides. If more than 4% of a district's students apply for vouchers, they are selected in a random drawing by the Wisconsin DPI.
Is early application advantageous?
Unlike financial aid, the timing of the application does not give the applicant family an advantage. Those who register near the end of the enrollment period have the same opportunity as those who register early. However, an early application is still recommended to be sure that the state and Lakeside receive the correct information.
Students in the choice program are Lakeside students in every sense of the word. They have the opportunity to ride the bus each day, take the same classes as other Lakeside students, and participate in co-curricular activities. In short, they are Lakeside students.
Only four in-school personnel know the identity of the choice students. They are the school’s choice administrator (Principal), the assistant to the choice administrator (Guidance Director), the individual directing the voucher payments (Financial Manager), and the Principal's admin assistant who helps process applications. The student and his/her family will know they are in the choice program, but will not know the identity of other choice students.
Lakeside takes every possible precaution to safeguard the identity of its choice students.
Note that Lakeside’s enrollment policy offers opportunities for school leadership positions only to students who are WELS or ELS members. This includes membership in the A Cappella Choir, leadership positions in student government, leadership positions in daily worship, leadership positions through Operation GO, and the privilege to be a class speaker at graduation.
Does the choice payment cover every Lakeside related expense?
No. The choice payment covers tuition and education-related fees in full. Expenses not covered by the choice payment include:
- social and extracurricular activities (e.g.: May Banquet costs, school dance admission fees, field trip fees, summer band costs, etc);
- rental of musical instruments;
- school meals (Note: Lakeside does participate in the national school lunch program. As a participating school, it offers free and reduced lunches to students whose families qualify. More information here); and
- fees for classes that are not required for graduation (e.g.: Woods class)
Current WPCP guidelines allow 4% of the student population of a school district to participate in the program. For example, if a district has 1,000 students, 4% of that total - 40 students - may participate. Keep in mind that all WPCP schools in the area share those 40 students. If the number of applicants from a district exceeds the 4%, a state-held lottery randomly selects which students receive vouchers. This means that some qualified applicants may not be selected.
The good news is that Lakeside draws from many different districts. 4% of the student population of each district is eligible for the WPCP. Furthermore, there are a limited number of WPCP schools in the areas from which Lakeside draws its students. The likelihood that a family who applies to and qualifies for the WPCP may send a student to Lakeside under the program is good.
Furthermore, Lakeside has financial aid available for its students. All families who feel that they have financial need may apply. Families of prospective WPCP students are encouraged to apply for Lakeside financial aid. If the family does not qualify for choice or is not selected if a lottery is held, they may still be able to send their student to Lakeside with this assistance.
No. All applicant families must additionally provide two pieces of information to Lakeside.
One is proof of residency. This may be a recent utility bill, a cable bill, a tax bill, or another government-issued mailing that proves that the family lives at the location that it claims. Proof of residency is important since the 4% figure (mentioned above) is determined by this.
Secondly, the family must document its financial eligibility. For those using the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) method, this typically means providing their completed and signed 2018 tax forms to Lakeside. For those using the Department of Revenue (DOR) method, this means providing the Social Security number(s) of the parent(s) during the application process.
Steps to Apply for Parental Choice at Lakeside
- Fill out the online application. The online application needs to be completed through the WPCP website. The application window is open from February 1 through April 20, 2019.
- Note: An e-mail address is required to register. Communications on the status of applications and the steps necessary to complete them will be e-mailed to the parent or legal guardian.
- Once an application is electronically submitted, the parent or guardian will be able to correct it online until the final day of the application period. Be sure to record the e-mail address and password that you use. Missing or incorrect information will cause problems processing applications and may cause them to be ineligible.
- Provide Proof of Residency to Lakeside. Lakeside must be given a copy of ONE of the following documents. The document must be current (within the last 3 months):
- Current water, gas, electric, cable, satellite, or landline phone bill. (Cell phone & internet bills NOT acceptable).
- 2018 Property tax bill or current (signed and dated) lease agreement
- Current wage statement (can be a year-end W2)
- Recent government correspondence. Current benefits statements from access.wisconsin.gov
- Families applying to the WPCP for the 1st time need to provide income documentation. Lakeside prefers that families select the DPI Method. The DPI method allows applicants to know up front if they qualify financially.
- DPI Method Documentation (*Preferred Method*) -- Acceptable documentation includes:
Copy the first two pages of your 1040 Federal Income Tax Return for 2018.
Needs to be signed and dated by taxpayers.
If your taxes are not completed, you may submit copies of all 2018 income documentation (employer W2s, 1099s, etc).
If you do not file for income tax, you must provide copies of all other income documentation for 2018 (social security statements, unemployment compensation statements, child support statements, etc).
- DOR Method (Secondary Method): Provide Social Security Number(s) of parents/guardians to LLHS
- DPI Method Documentation (*Preferred Method*) -- Acceptable documentation includes:
DPI or DOR?
The DPI (Department of Public Instruction) method is the preferred one. It is a series of income questions that are answered in the initial online application. Once completed, the parent(s) must provide hard copies of income documentation to Lakeside as directed in the application. The school will then verify that the student meets the WPCP's income requirements.
The DOR (Department of Revenue) method requires the parent(s) to provide their social security numbers or taxpayer identification numbers during the online application. The parent enters these numbers into the state's online system and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue determines income eligibility for the program.
Although Lakeside has processed applicant families via both methods, the DPI method is preferable since the parent(s) will immediately know if the family is income eligible for the WPCP.
What else should families do?
Families who apply for the WPCP should also select Lakeside classes for the student and complete school enrollment - including financial aid. This helps the school plan for adequate staffing and other resources. See here for more details.
- Know that when the application period closes on April 20, Lakeside must have all required income and residency documents in its possession. If these materials are not at Lakeside by the end of the day that the application window closes (or the closest school day preceding it if April 20 falls on a non-school day), the application is nullified;
- Lakeside telephones applicants who need to submit documents to remind them of this deadline. If you are a WPCP applicant and have recently received a voicemail from Lakeside, return that phone call as soon as possible;
- After Lakeside receives the necessary income and residency documentation, processing occurs. An applicant may check the status of an application by logging into the online application system where the application was first made. If Lakeside has verified the application, the phrase "The school has completed the verification" will appear on the page; and
- submitting income and residency documentation well before the April 20 deadline makes it possible for Lakeside to follow up if necessary.
You wait! The application period lasts until April 20 for all families with a current WPCP student(s) to reapply and for all families applying on behalf of a new student. After the application deadline, Lakeside is given ten calendar days to finish processing its applications. Then, the state Department of Public Instruction takes over. It reviews the school's online verification and determines how many applicants will receive a "seat" (i.e.: a voucher). Typically, the state notifies verified applicants in June if they have received a voucher. After that, the parent must notify Lakeside within 14 calendar days if they accept. If acceptance is not done in this time frame, the voucher offer is withdrawn.
In June or July, a Lakeside homeroom teacher will call or email the family to schedule an appointment for a home visit. This teacher will likely be the child's homeroom teacher for his/her high school years. In the visit, the teacher will share valuable information with the family about in-school registration, Freshmen Orientation Day, the first full day of school for all students, and Freshmen Parent Immersion Night. Lakeside likes to complete home visits in July.
Whom to Contact with Questions?
For the first three years of its participation in the WPCP, Lakeside has found this program to be an asset to families as we seek to provide a distinctly Lutheran education to the high school students of our federation and community.