If you are interested in applying to a charter school in Philadelphia, please follow the steps below. Throughout the application process, it is best to direct your questions to the charter school to which your child is applying.

Check Eligibility

All Pennsylvania residents ages five through twenty-one are eligible to attend Philadelphia charter schools. Charter schools must admit students without consideration of the student’s intellectual ability, athletic ability, test or placement scores, special education status, or ability to speak English.

The following DO NOT affect a student’s eligibility to attend a charter school:

  • Academic grades
  • Test score results
  • History of detentions or suspensions
  • Special education needs
  • English speaking or reading ability

Application Process

Every year, each charter school in Philadelphia provides an application for new students and announces a deadline to receive applications for available seats in the next school year. Some schools create their own application. Many others also participate in using the Apply Philly Charter standard application[1] , which is developed by Great Philly Schools, an independent entity not affiliated with the district. Participating charter schools will accept either their own application, if they have one, or the standard application. While charter schools are allowed to select their own application deadline, most deadlines are in January, February, or March.

*If you do not speak English, please contact the charter school directly. The school is required to translate the application for you into any language requested.

Lottery (If Needed)

If a charter school receives more applications than the number of seats available in a certain grade, it must offer these seats through a random selection process or lottery. A lottery is held to determine who is accepted and who will be placed on a waiting list for the next school year.

Lotteries randomly select students for enrollment, with the following exceptions:

  • Students living in Philadelphia receive preference over students who live elsewhere in Pennsylvania.
  • Some schools (not all) may use the following lottery preferences according to their charter terms and enrollment policy:
    • Sibling preference for brothers and sisters of current students at the school
    • Founder preference for children of the school’s founders or those actively involved in starting the charter school
    • Geographic preference for students living in certain neighborhoods, zip codes, or catchment areas
    • Feeder preference for students currently attending specific feeder schools

If your child is selected for a spot in the charter school, the school will contact you after the lottery. Selection in the lottery does not result in automatic enrollment, as additional information must be submitted to secure the student’s seat (see below).

Please note: If your child is placed on the waiting list, she or he may still be enrolled during the year if space becomes available. The school will contact you if additional spots open up.

How to Enroll

If your child is offered a spot in the charter school (through the lottery or the waiting list), five documents are required to complete enrollment at the charter school:

  • Proof of child’s age
  • Immunization record
  • Proof of residency
  • Parent registration statement
  • Home language survey

If you submit these documents by the school’s deadline, your child is officially enrolled in the charter school. The school may ask for additional information, but it cannot require information beyond that above for enrollment. In addition, a charter school cannot request for enrollment or as proof of residency a social security number or card, a student or parent visa, or the reason a student does not live with his or her biological parents.


The best way to get more information on a charter school’s application timeline and enrollment requirements is to contact the school directly. You can find a directory of Philadelphia charter schools here.

Visit Great Philly Schools for guidance in selecting charter schools in Philadelphia and information regarding early childhood learning programs, academic results, safety, graduation rates, and extracurriculars.

If you are interested in applying to multiple charter schools, visit Apply Philly Charter to complete the standard application.

If you have any general questions about charter school enrollment or concerns about the policy or practice of a current Philadelphia charter school, please contact the Charter Schools Office at 215-400-4090 or charters@philasd.org.