Frequently Asked Questions

What is the National Charter School Resource Center (NCSRC)?

The National Charter School Resource Center (NCSRC) is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter School Programs (CSP). NCSRC is a source of high-quality resources for charter school stakeholders, including case studies, webinars, reports, and toolkits. NCSRC is also a source of technical assistance for CSP grantees. The NCSRC is currently managed by Manhattan Strategy Group in partnership with WestEd.

What is Charter School Programs (CSP)?

Charter School Programs (CSP) is a division of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. CSP oversees discretionary grants designed to support the creation, replication, and expansion of promising and high-quality charter schools and to disseminate information about charter school practices.

What is a charter school?

A charter school is a publicly accountable, autonomous school that may operate outside of a traditional public district and functions as a school of choice. For more information, see our What is a Charter School? infographic.

There are so many acronyms in education! Is there a place where I can learn more about key terms?

Check out our Key Definitions page for descriptions of other important stakeholders in charter school work, including charter management organizations (CMOs) and charter school authorizers.

Can charter schools charge tuition?

Charter schools are publicly funded by local, state, and federal tax dollars, similar to district schools. Charter schools that meet the federal definition of a charter school may not charge tuition.

How do you start a charter school? And who can start one?

State charter school law determines who can apply for a charter school. Generally, teachers and school leaders, parents, community leaders, and non-profit organizations can apply for a charter to one of their state's charter authorizers. Nearly all states require the charters governing board to operate as a nonprofit entity. The application process and requirements differ according to state charter laws and authorizer practices. To learn more about starting a charter school, we recommend you first contact your state’s charter support organization or the State Department of Education for help. Use our state resources page to help you find the appropriate organization to contact.

In addition to NCSRC, where can I find additional resources related to charter schools?

There are many organizations across the country that support the establishment and sustainability of high-quality charter schools. If you are interested in learning more about the national charter school landscape, please visit the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the National Institute for Charter Schools. To learn more about charter school authorizing, please visit the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. To explore more information about charter schools in your state, visit our state resources page.