State: Maryland

Maryland’s BOOST Scholarship: Who it serves and how it works

Over the past seven years, about 20,000 low-income children in Maryland have received scholarships from the state to attend approved private schools that can better meet their learning needs. The program that makes this possible for families is Maryland’s BOOST Scholarship, short for “Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today.” 

BOOST, which was established by the state in 2016, recognizes that traditional public schools will serve many children well, but some will need a lifeline to another option if they are to succeed and thrive in their education. The BOOST Scholarship is that lifeline, giving low-income families the opportunity to choose a private school that meets their needs.  

Maryland’s only private school choice program, BOOST provided 3,268 scholarships in the 2021-2022 school year to children whose families were looking for a better education fit. About a third of the BOOST scholarship recipients were English language learners, and the average household income of BOOST families was just $35,488. More than 240 of the children were special education students. 

As these numbers show, BOOST is a targeted program, existing to create opportunities for disadvantaged children. To apply for the program, a K-12 student must qualify for free and reduced price meals and must be accepted at a participating nonpublic school. A full list of the 160+ schools are participating for the 2023-2024 school year is available at the Maryland State Department of Education.

For the 2023-2024 school year, Maryland has budgeted $9 million for current and new BOOST scholars. Note that scholarships are distributed to the lowest income families who have applied first. Due to the program’s limited funding, students may be placed on a waitlist once scholarship funding has been used. 

If this program could benefit your family or a family you know, learn more about applying at the Maryland State Department of Education. Online applications generally become available to families in March or April, and BOOST scholarships are generally announced in the summer.

Maryland State Guide

Choosing a school? You’ve got options.

Each spring, parents face one of the biggest decisions they can make for their child’s future: What school environment will their child spend about 1,000 hours in next year? Sound familiar? Let’s dive in to school choice in Maryland.

Making that decision with confidence starts with knowing what options you have. You may have more school choices than you realize! Understanding these options can help you find a school where your child is excited to learn. Maryland families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, homeschooling, and microschooling and mix-and-match learning.

Looking for special education options? You can learn what special education services are available in Maryland at the Ultimate Guide to Special Education.

Maryland Traditional Public Schools

Most children (66% of all K-12 students) in Maryland attend traditional public schools. Traditional public schools are free to attend, open to all students, operated by school districts, and funded by taxpayers like you. Did you know Maryland spends an average of $16,417 per public school student each year? You can search your school’s spending and that of nearby schools at Project Nickel.

Most states have some form of open enrollment. This refers to whether parents can send their child to a public school other than their assigned school. Open enrollment is an important choice, expanding parents’ options and ensuring that zip code isn’t the sole determiner of their education. Unfortunately, Maryland only offers public open enrollment in a few circumstances. For example, a student may be able to request a school transfer if they move during the school year, if they are a child of an employee at the school they wish to transfer into, or if a health professional recommends a different school environment.

For a real-world example of the transfer process, check out the “Change of School Assignment Booklet” for Montgomery Public Schools, Maryland’s largest district.

Find out more about public schools in your state at the Maryland State Department of Education. You can learn more about Maryland open enrollment at “Public Schools Without Boundaries: A 50 State Report.

Maryland Charter Schools

You can also choose charter schools. 2.4% of all K-12 students attend a public charter school in Maryland. Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that have extra freedom to innovate with curriculum and learning methods. Maryland has about 50 charter schools that parents can choose from.

Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves. That could be providing a Spanish immersion program or offering a rigorous STEAM curriculum. If there are more families seeking admittance to a charter school than there are seats, a lottery system is usually used to determine admittance. In Maryland, charter school lotteries are usually held at the beginning of the calendar year. 

For more information on charter schools in your state, check out the Maryland Alliance of Public Charter Schools. 

Maryland Magnet Schools

Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as an International Baccalaureate program or the performing arts. At a magnet school, all the subjects are taught through the lenses of that specific track. In Maryland, 16.4% of the K-12 student population attend a public magnet school.

Maryland has several magnet schools throughout the state; for instance, there are more than 30 magnet schools or programs in the Baltimore area. Some of the other districts with magnet schools include Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Washington County Public Schools, and Prince George’s County Public Schools

For example, Deer Park Middle Magnet School offers eight creative magnet programs focusing on areas such as dance and mass communications. And recently, Anne Arundel County’s Old Mill Middle School South was named a National Magnet School of Excellence for its dedication to STEM learning and community partnerships.

If your child learns well through diving deeply into a particular subject, a magnet school could be a good fit. 

Maryland Private Schools

As you may know, private schools are nonpublic schools that charge tuition. Maryland has a variety of private schools, both religious and non-religious: There are more than 800 private schools across the state.

Tuition varies widely, but the average in the state is $13,524 for elementary schools and $17,815 for high schools. Maryland has one private school choice program, the Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) Program, which provides state-run educational scholarships for families under a certain income level. More than 3,200 (0.3%) Maryland students took advantage of this program in the 2021-2022 school year.

Additional support may be available. For example, the Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust partners with 18 private schools to provide admissions and financial support to high-achieving African American students in the Baltimore area. Also, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts. 

Learn more at Children’s Scholarship Fund-Baltimore, the Abell Foundation, Knott Scholarship Funds, Partners in Excellence, the Maryland Council for American Private Education, the Maryland Catholic Conference, and Private School Review: Maryland.

Maryland Online Learning

Online learning is sometimes overlooked, but it offers a uniquely flexible learning environment. For example, some families use this flexibility to accelerate learning. Meanwhile, others use it to provide a quieter, stress-free environment for learning. Whatever the reason, you may want to try online learning.

Unfortunately, Maryland does not currently have its own free, full-time online learning program available to students statewide. But, there are paid, full-time online school options available to families in all 50 states, Maryland included. Some of these paid providers are George Washington University Online High SchoolThe Keystone School, Excel High School, and K12 Private Academy.

A local online option Maryland families can choose for a fee is Bryn Mawr Online, an AIMS-accredited, NCAA-approved, and AP-authorized online school for girls. The school is an outgrowth of Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, which is ranked as the number one college prep school in Maryland. 

Also worth mentioning is that students in select Maryland districts, like Baltimore City Public Schools and Montgomery County Public Schools, can access district-run online learning for free. In addition, the Eastern Shore of Maryland Blended Virtual Program offers a blended learning program to public school students in grades 6-12 in certain Maryland districts. These include: Caroline County, Cecil County,  Dorchester County, Queen Anne’s County, Somerset County, Talbot County, Wicomico County and Worcester County public schools. Finally, students in some districts can take part-time courses through their school and Maryland Virtual Learning Opportunities.

To read more about online learning in Maryland, check out the Digital Learning Collaborative’s state profile.

Maryland Homeschooling

Also, Maryland families have a sixth option in homeschooling, which is the process of parents educating students at home. Homeschooling is permitted in all 50 states. If you are looking for a highly customizable and flexible education for your child and think homeschooling could fit the bill, learn more about Maryland’s homeschooling rules.

In Maryland, 2.8% of all K-12 students are homeschooled. Notice of your intent to homeschool is required immediately upon making this decision or your student will be considered truant. It is also required that you formally withdraw from your public school. 

The state requires homeschooling parents to teach specific subjects (like math and English) and may also request to review samples of a homeschooling family’s education materials and work. In general, children who are homeschooled may face roadblocks if they want to participate in public school sports or activities in Maryland. But, you can always look for other leagues or activities near you! 

Note that Maryland homeschool families are never required to enroll their children in public school. If you receive information to the contrary, you may want to ask for legal assistance. You can also check out the Maryland Homeschool Association and the Maryland Association of Christian Home Educators.

Maryland Microschools and Mix-and-Match Learning

Today, some Maryland families are mixing and matching school options to come up with new ways to personalize education. Microschools are one of these ways. A microschool refers to students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Microschools can take a variety of shapes and legal forms, from homeschoolers coming together at an enrichment center to a private school committed to small classrooms. What microschools share in common is a commitment to small-group learning and close-knit relationships, along with an emphasis on children as individual learners. 

Here are a couple of real examples of microschools in Maryland:

Montessori Luna is a bilingual Montessori school in Pikesville with a nature-inspired program. 

Mysa Microschool in nearby Washington, D.C. offers place-based education with crowdsourced curriculum from around the world.

Remember, microschooling is more a mentality than a specific legal distinction in most cases. Often, a family participates in a microschool while legally homeschooling, or being enrolled in a private or online school. 

Download the School Choice Snapshot for Maryland

Download Snapshot

What is School Choice

How can it empower parents and help kids achieve their dreams?

Read More

Choosing the Right School

Tips to help you find a school where your daughter or son will learn, succeed, and be happy.

Get Tips

Search for Schools Near Me

School Type
Traditional public schools do not charge tuition. They are managed by school districts and do not require students to pass tests to enroll.
Public charter schools do not charge tuition. They are usually managed by nonprofit organizations and do not require students to pass tests to enroll.
Public magnet schools do not charge tuition. They are managed by school districts and focus on themes, such as math, science, technology, and the arts.
Private schools charge tuition, but scholarships are often available via state programs or by individual schools. Private schools are privately managed and can be faith-based or secular.
Grade Levels

Microschooling and Mix-and-Match Learning

How can it empower parents and help kids achieve their dreams?

Read More

7 Step Guide

Tips to help you find a school where your daughter or son will learn, succeed, and be happy.

View Guide

Education Resources for
Maryland Parents

For additional information about school choices in Maryland, visit these resources:

Every state is different when it comes to school choice options.

Sign up below to get a detailed comparison:

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Landmarks Across America Shine for School Choice Week 2024!

Did you witness the magic of National School Choice Week 2024? Starting January 21st, close to three dozen landmarks and notable buildings from Alaska to New York lit up in dazzling shades of yellow and red and created a vibrant celebration of K-12 education opportunities!

Alaska

JL Tower in Anchorage, Alaska

January 21-27, 2024

Anchorage

Arkansas

Junction Bridge in Little Rock, Arkansas

January 26, 2024

Little Rock

Main Street Bridge in Little Rock, Arkansas

January 26, 2024

Little Rock

Union Plaza in Little Rock, Arkansas

January 21-27, 2024

Little Rock

California

“M” at Box Springs Mountain in Moreno Valley, California

January 26, 2024

Moreno Valley

Union Station in Los Angeles, California

January 21-27, 2024

Los Angeles

Florida

Las Olas Centre in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

January 21-27, 2024

Fort Lauderdale

Platt Street Bridge in Tampa, Florida

January 22, 2024

Tampa

Kennedy Blvd Bridge in Tampa, Florida

January 22, 2024

Tampa

Old City Hall in Tampa, Florida

January 22, 2024

Tampa

Georgia

One Atlantic Center in Atlanta, Georgia

January 22, 2024

Atlanta

Hawaii

Aloha Tower in Honolulu, Hawaii

January 21-27, 2024

Honolulu

Idaho

8th and Main Tower in Boise, Idaho

January 21-27, 2024

Boise

Illinois

The Wrigley Building in Chicago, Illinois

January 25, 2024

Chicago

Willis Tower in Chicago, Illinois

January 21, 2024

Chicago

Indiana

AES Building in Indianapolis, Indiana

January 21, 2024

Indianapolis

Louisiana

Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

January 21-27, 2024

Baton Rouge

State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

January 21-27, 2024

Baton Rouge

The Governors Mansion in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

January 21-27, 2024

Baton Rouge

Minnesota

Lowry Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota

January 26, 2024

Minneapolis

Missouri

Waldo Water Tower in Kansas City, Missouri

January 21-27, 2024

Kansas City

Nebraska

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge in Omaha, Nebraska

January 23, 2024

Omaha

New York

Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York

January 24, 2024

Buffalo

North Carolina

550 South Tryon Tower in Charlotte, North Carolina

January 27, 2024

Charlotte

Ohio

Dublin Link Bridge in Dublin, Ohio

January 26, 2024

Dublin

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio

January 21-27, 2024

Cleveland

Oklahoma

Choctaw Casino and Resort in Durant, Oklahoma

January 21-27, 2024

Durant

SkyDance Bridge in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

January 25, 2024

Oklahoma City

Oregon

Salem Convention Center in Salem, Oregon

January 20, 2024

Salem

Pennsylvania

The Symphony House Condo in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

January 26, 2024

Philadelphia

Koppers Building in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

January 24, 2024

Pittsburgh

Gulf Tower in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

January 24, 2024

Pittsburgh

South Carolina

Governor’s Mansion in Columbia, South Carolina

January 21-27, 2024

Columbia

Washington

Columbia Town Center in Seattle, Washington

January 23, 2024

Seattle

Wyoming

Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center in Laramie, Wyoming

January 23, 2024 

Laramie

If you know of a building in your community that would light up for National School Choice Week, please reach out to our team! Send us an email.

For journalists covering the Week, more information and resources to enhance your coverage on a variety of platforms can be found on our media resources page. For families interested in discovering more about the different school choice options available in their home state please visit your state page for a detailed roadmap.

National School Choice Week (NSCW) informs, inspires, and empowers parents to discover the K-12 education options available for their children, including traditional public, charter, magnet, online, private, and homeschooling.

Every January, tens of thousands of schools, organizations, and individuals plan unique events and activities to shine a positive spotlight on effective education options in their communities.  The Week is a project of the nonpartisan, nonpolitical National School Choice Awareness Foundation.

Governor Larry Hogan issued a proclamation recognizing January 23-29, 2022 as Maryland School Choice Week.

 



There are a variety of school choice options available for many of the 1.4 million children living in Maryland. Families in Maryland can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, and homeschooling.

You can discover more information about the school choice options available for your family by reading our Maryland School Choice Roadmap and by visiting the Maryland state page
As a nonprofit, charitable effort, School Choice Week works throughout the year to develop and provide free, practical, and unbiased school search resources for Maryland families.

During our annual awareness celebrations each January, schools and homeschool groups partner with community organizations to plan school fairs, parent information sessions, open houses and other awareness events to spotlight the diversity of education options available in the state. In January 2022, we will partner with 371 schools and organizations in Maryland to raise awareness of K-12 education options.

Maryland