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Residency & Attendance

In most states, where a student lives and how they attend school have implications for student count, funding, and even for calculating participation rates for standardized tests.

If your program is based in a typical public school district and you wish to limit your reach to students in that district’s defined geographic area, it is likely that most, if not all, of the residency questions are already answered in your state’s usual residency requirements and funding mechanisms.

If you wish to reach outside those established boundaries, numerous questions arise. In some states, these questions may be answered for you via funding laws, residency laws, or special laws governing virtual schools. In other states, you may need to define your answers in local policies. Be sure to check with your state’s department of education, if applicable, regarding any relevant laws. Typically, charter schools and private schools are not defined by geographic boundaries in the same way as are typical public schools, but similar issues can still arise.

Through state law or local policy, your program should address questions such as:

  • Can a student be part time in your program and part time in another? Is there a limit to the number of programs a student can draw from in order to earn a diploma?
  • Which entity – the online learning program, the resident district or some other entity – will award the credit(s) earned by the student?
  • If a student participates in multiple programs, who maintains the master transcript and issues the diploma? Does the student need pre-approval to ensure that credits transfer to that program?
  • How is attendance credited and how are attendance rates calculated for students who are participating in online courses from off campus? Note: Off campus participation may not be allowed or may be restricted in some states.
  • If you have a public school program that crosses state boundaries, how will procedures for tracking attendance, reporting student counts and accessing funding vary for out-of-state students?
  • How does funding flow from the student’s resident district or the state to your program? See the funding section for more information.
It is important to be aware of the legal obligations that are associated with access & equity issues.