Wisconsin Parental Choice Program

About the WPCP

Lakeside Lutheran High School participates in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP). For students who qualify for the WPCP, the state of Wisconsin provides a voucher that pays the student's tuition in full. The application period begins February 3, 2020 and ends April 16, 2020.

Students entering 9th grade and those transferring from a public high school at any grade level are eligible. There are a total of 102 WPCP students at Lakeside this year. Lakeside's General Board has approved 190 seats for 2020-21. This allows a sufficient number of seats for Lakeside students currently in the program plus sufficient seats for new new choice students.
 
If my child is enrolling at Lakeside Lutheran and I hope to use the choice program, for which program am I eligible?
Use the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program. This is both for students who transfer to Lakeside from a public high school in grades 10-12 and for 9th graders first enrolling in 2020-21.
There are two other choice programs. However, they are for parts of the state from which Lakeside does not draw its students.
 
The Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP) online parent application is available February 3 at dpi.wi.gov/choice
A Spanish version of the application is also available through the same website. 
 
From the WPCP FAQs:
Each year, parents must complete the online parent application available through the following webpage: dpi.wi.gov/choice. Parents must provide residency documentation and income documentation, if applicable, to the school(s) they apply to during the application period or the application is ineligible. Students continuing in any of the Choice programs or on the WPCP waiting list in the prior year do not need to meet the income limits. New
students will have to prove income eligibility. Additionally, applicants for the WPCP will have to indicate which of the prior year school attendance requirements they meet. Parents/guardians may either: (a) provide their social security numbers or taxpayer identification number and have the Department of Revenue determine whether the student is income eligible for the program; or (b) use the Department of Public Instruction’s income determination method by answering a series of income questions in the on-line parent application and providing paper income documentation to the school(s) as directed in the application during the open application period. The school will verify that the student meets the income requirements.
Applicants must also provide proof of residency directly to the schools during the open application period. A student can apply to the Choice program at one or more schools during the open application period.
 

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. An additional $7,000 is allowed for a married couple as illustrated in the table below. 2020-21 Adjusted Gross Income limits are:

 

 

Family Size
Single Parent
Family Income
Married
Family
Income
2 $37,202  - - -
3 $46,926 $53,926
4 $56,650 $63,650
5 $66,374 $73,374
6 $76,098 $83,098


*Add $9,724 for each additional family member beyond 6

**Income is the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) on the 1040 tax form for 2019

 

What does this mean for your family?

If your student is new to Lakeside and you need for financial aid, apply for both financial aid and the WPCP. See info for the LLHS Financial Aid application here.
 

Who gets picked for a voucher through the WPCP?
The state makes the final determination. However, if a student receives a voucher, it may be renewed for the 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 may apply. The cap for vouchers in the 2020-21 school year is 5% of the total enrollment of the school district where the family resides. If more than 5% from the district apply for vouchers, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction randomly selects which eligible students receive vouchers.

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.

What happens if more students apply than the seats available?
If more students apply to the WPCP than what Lakeside opened, the state of Wisconsin will conduct a lottery to select the students. On occasion, a selected student may decide not to attend. If this happens, an opportunity will be extended to a student at that grade level who was not initially selected.
 
If a Lakeside student is in the choice program, will he or she be treated differently?
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: the choice administrator (Principal), the assistant to the choice administrator (Guidance Director), the individual directing the voucher payments (Financial Manager), and the Principal's designee who helps process applications. The student and his/her family will know they are in the choice program, but they will not know the identity of other choice students.
Lakeside will 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, and leadership positions through Operation GO.

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, 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
  • materials fees for classes that are not required for graduation (e.g.: Woods class)
There may be other fees for which Lakeside may charge. The above list is not intended to be exhaustive. If you have questions, contact Lakeside’s choice administrator (the Principal) for an explanation.
 
Is my family automatically in the program once we meet the income and residency requirements of the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP)?
Not necessarily.
Current WPCP guidelines allow 5% of the student population of a school district to participate in the program. For example, if a district has 1,000 students, 5% of that total - 50 students - may participate. Keep in mind that all WPCP schools in the area share the 50 students from that district. If the number of applicants from a district exceeds the 5%, a DPI 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. 5% 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 reasonably 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 also 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.
 
Am I finished with the process after I have completed the online application?
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 5% 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 2019 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. 
Whichever method the family selects, the online application form informs parents what to provide to Lakeside.
 

 

Steps to Apply for Parental Choice at Lakeside

  1. Fill out the online application. The online application needs to be completed through the WPCP website. The application window is open from February 3, 2020 through April 16, 2020.
    1. 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.
    2. 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 a student to be ineligible.
  2. Provide Proof of Residency. Lakeside must be given a copy of ONE of the following documents. The document must be current (within the last 3 months):
    1. Current water, gas, electric, cable, satellite, or landline phone bill. (Cell phone & internet bills NOT acceptable).
    2. 2019 property tax bill or current (signed and dated) lease agreement
    3. Current wage statement (can be a year-end W2)
    4. Recent government correspondence. Current benefits statements from access.wisconsin.gov
  3. Families applying to the WPCP for the first 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.
    1. DPI Method Documentation (*Preferred Method*) -- Acceptable documentation includes:
      A copy of the first two pages of your 1040 Federal Income Tax Return for 2019.
      It needs to be signed and dated by the taxpayers.
      OR
      If your taxes are not completed, you may submit copies of all 2019 income documentation (employer W2s, 1099s, etc).
      OR
      If you do not file income tax, you must provide copies of all other income documentation for 2019 (social security statements, unemployment compensation statements, child support statements, etc).
    2. DOR Method (Secondary Method): Possibly provide your Social Security Number(s) of parents/guardians to LLHS
       

DPI or DOR?

There are two methods by which families may determine their financial eligibility: 
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 then verifies 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 16, Lakeside must have all required income and residency documents in its possession. If these materials are not at Lakeside by the end of school that day, the application is ineligible;
  • 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 16 deadline makes it possible for Lakeside to follow up if necessary.
 
Once an application has been made for a Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP) voucher and the applicant parent has met with Lakeside, what's next?

You wait! The application period lasts until April 16. After the application deadline, Lakeside is given until the first week day in May to process 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 late May or early June if they have received a voucher. After that, the parent must notify Lakeside within a few 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 student'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 teachers like to complete their home visits in July.

 
Whom to Contact with Questions?

Please call the Lakeside office (920-648-2321) or contact Principal James Grasby (jgrasby@llhs.org) with questions about the program.
Lakeside finds this program to be an asset to our families as we seek to provide a distinctly Lutheran education to the students of our federation and community.