Open Enrollment

Statewide Enrollment Options

Statewide enrollment options, informally known as open enrollment, is Minnesota’s public school choice option that allows students and parents to have access to schools that are not within their resident district. This program allows student enrollment from one school district into another. In the 2017-18 school year, more than 80,000 Minnesota students, or 9 percent, are open-enrolled.

State applications are used for any open enrollment situation involving two school districts in Minnesota. Once accepted for open enrollment, the student may attend the nonresident district through high school graduation. Siblings of the open-enrolled student will receive priority consideration to attend the same nonresident district if demand exceeds available spots and a lottery is held. Nonresident districts must receive applications by January 15 for the following fall, with some exceptions. See the Statewide Enrollment Options Instructions for details.

The Statewide Enrollment Options Instructions provide guidance for families and school districts on applying for a statewide enrollment options program. The applications must be physically signed by the parent or legal guardian. Foster parents may also sign open enrollment applications if the foster parents want the foster child to attend a school district other than where the foster parent or parent/legal guardian of the foster child reside. However, no open enrollment form is needed for a foster child to remain in the original district even if the foster family resides in another district.

To complete either application, you need the following:
  • The name of the school district in which the parents/legal guardians of the student reside. Please visit the Legislative Coordinating Commission to determine the resident school district.
  • Basic contact information for the superintendent’s office of the nonresident district where you would like your child to attend. Please visit MDE-ORG for School District contact information.  
The instructions are for use with the following two statewide enrollment options applications:

General Statewide Enrollment Options Application for K-12 and Early Childhood Special Education
This is the required application for all Minnesota school districts. Please use this application for inter-district K-12 open enrollment and inter-district enrollment in ECSE. In some districts Early Childhood Special Education is called Help Me Grow.

Statewide Enrollment Options Application for State-funded Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) or School Readiness Plus (SRP) Application
This is the required application for participating Minnesota school districts. Please use this application for voluntary pre-kindergarten or school readiness plus open enrollment.

School District Non-resident Agreement for Inter-district Enrollment
Districts may use this form, or other formats, to document non-resident agreements to allow enrollment when the January 15 deadline is missed and no exception in law applies.

School Districts Participating in Achievement and Integration Program
2017-2018 Achievement and Integration Program Participating School Districts
These Minnesota school districts receive Integration Revenue. The January 15 deadline for Statewide Enrollment Options does not apply to these school districts.

Transportation
In most situations, families participating in the Statewide Enrollment Options Program provide their own transportation to and from school. Please see Minnesota Statutes, section 124D.03, subdivision 8, for further details. Some districts choose to run school buses into other school districts to provide open enrolled students transportation. Sometimes students who have an individualized education program (IEP) require door-to-door transportation. After a student is accepted for open enrollment, families also have the option of requesting bus transportation from an existing bus stop within the regular attendance zone of the nonresident district. Families whose incomes are at the federal poverty level or lower may also request transportation reimbursement from the nonresident district of 15 cents per mile or actual cost, whichever is lower.

Related initiatives that are not statewide enrollment options

All early childhood initiatives, other than Early Childhood Special Education, Voluntary State-Funded Pre-Kindergarten, and School Readiness Plus

Examples of programs that are not part of the Statewide Enrollment Options Program include Early Childhood Family Education or district or parent-funded preschool options operated by districts other than your own. Contact the nonresident district for information about enrolling.

Inter-district options

While state law covers inter-district enrollment options, local policies adopted by school boards address whether and when intra-district open enrollment will allow families within the district school choice options other than a default attendance zone school. For example, districts will often allow these options if the family daycare is in a different attendance zone. To learn more about these options, contact your superintendent’s office. The school district will provide you any applicable paperwork to complete.

Cross-state options

When students, who are not Minnesota residents, want to enroll in Minnesota public schools, they do so through border-state agreements where they exist. Minnesota’s Compulsory Attendance law defines a student’s residency as the residence of the parent or legal guardian. Minnesota has border agreements to assist in enrollment of South Dakota and Iowa into Minnesota public schools and vice versa. MDE’s website has more information on these Interstate K-12 Tuition Agreements. Minnesota does not have agreements for cross-state enrollment with Wisconsin or North Dakota.

Other school choice options

Minnesota has other school enrollment options to consider: Alternative Learning, Charter Schools, Nonpublic and Homeschools, and Online Learning.