School Finder Help Line: Helping families understand school options (800) 208-2242 SchoolFinder@fcsn.orgThe Public School System provides all children who live in the U.S. with a free education. A core value in public education is equal opportunity for all students. Families have responsibilities education, including sending their children to school. Every school in the U.S. – including Puerto Rico – must follow certain standards.

Massachusetts Public Schools

Every family lives within a public school district. Usually, the district serves students from one city or town. All students who live within the district may attend for free. Transportation is provided based on distance between home and the school.

How to Enroll in Your Public School District
  • Requirements will vary, but usually a registration form and supporting documents are required.
  • You may be asked to provide a power bill, lease, or other proof that you live within the town. If you are living with friends or in a shelter, you will still be able to send your child to school.
  • Children must have proof of certain vaccination status.
  • School districts may not ask about your immigration status. 
Enrolling in Another School District

The following programs have different requirements and application procedures:

  • METCO: Designed to increase diversity in schools, Boston and Springfield students can apply to a nearby district. Transportation is provided.
  • Inter-District School Choice: You can apply to send your child to a nearby school district if it participates in this program. Transportation is not provided.
  • Non-Resident Tuition Program: In some cases, students can enroll in another district to participate in certain vocational-technical programs. Transportation is provided.
African American girl in charter school uniform reading a bookCharter Schools
  • Publicly funded but independent from cities and towns.
  • Families must submit an application.
  • A lottery determines which students will be admitted to the charter school.
  • Transportation may be available, depending on where you live and where the charter school is located.
Other Public Schools that Require an Application
Private Schools
  • Funded through tuition or private donations.
  • Religious schools are a type of private school.
  • Admission may be based on test scores, grades, disciplinary records, interviews, or examples of student work.
  • May offer scholarships.
  • Transportation is usually not provided.
Schools That Provide Specialized Help
  • Recovery Schools are public schools that support students who have struggled with drugs or alcohol.
  • Special Education Schools may be public or private. Through the IEP process, some students with disabilities attend a Special Education school, with the home school district paying tuition.
Virtual Schools
  • Learning takes place over the internet.
  • Commonwealth Virtual Schools are public schools.
  • Classes are taught by licensed teachers.
  • An application is required.
  • If more students apply than space allows, a lottery is held.
  • Families may apply to their local school district to request permission to educate their children at home.
  • School Districts set their own process and requirements for home schooling.