The Office of Enrollment and Residency (OER) has everything you would need to know about the requirements for enrolling your child in any public or public charter school in the District. OER oversees the compliance of enrollment, residency as it relates to enrolling your child, tuition, and non-residency investigations. Though, OER oversees the compliance of enrollment, please note that the enrollment and residency process is completed at the school. Contact the enrolling school directly to learn more about their document submission process and to complete your enrollment and residency verification.
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OER works diligently to ensure taxpayer funds are being used for the residents of the district. Establishing residency is a key factor in funding public education in the District, and this residency must be proven annually in order to enroll in a DC public school. The school will check proof of residency annually at the time of enrollment or re-enrollment and families should notify the school of any change of residence within three days.
Only resident students of the District can attend DC public schools tuition-free. Families who are eligible include:
- Families regardless of immigration status
- Families experiencing homelessness
A student’s residency is based only on the residency of their parent(s), guardian, custodian, or other primary caregiver. For more information about homeless status and resources, please visit the Homeless Education Program webpage.
To be a resident, you have to:
- Be physically present in DC; and
- Submit valid documentation of DC residence.
To be enrolled in any public school in DC, a parent, guardian, custodian, or other primary caregiver (OPC) must provide documents to the enrolling school. The enrolling person must show documentation that verifies proof of DC residency for each student assigned to or wishing to attend a traditional public or public charter school in the District. The DC Residency Verification Form must be completed and supporting documentation provided (along with a physical presence in the District) in order to establish residency. Enrollment and residency verification is completed directly with the enrolling school. Contact the enrolling school for all required forms and submission guidance.
The following items are accepted documentation of DC residency:
Enrolling person, follow ONE of the methods (A-C) to verify your DC residency.
Verify with a school official. If you are experiencing homelessness, a ward of the District, and/or a participant of a District public benefits program, such as Medicaid, Supplementation Nutrition Assistance Program, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – your school may already have your information. Check with your school official or the school’s homeless liaison.
Verify through the Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR). Re-enrolling families/students are often able to verify residency using OTR residency verification process. The enrolling person must have paid taxes in DC during the previous fiscal year and have the student’s Social Security number. The student must be re-enrolling in the same local education agency and enrolling in grades K-12. Login to the system at ossedctax.com. If successful, your verification will then be available for your school to confirm.
Verify by submitting supporting documentation. All items must include the same name and address of the enrolling person as completed on the DC residency verification form and school-based enrollment documents.
ONE item is needed from this list to verify residency.
TWO items are needed from this list to verify residency.
The lease must contain the start date, monthly rent amount, name of landlord, and be signed by the enrolling person and landlord.
The separate proof of payment must be for a period within two months immediately preceding the school’s review of this form and match the monthly rent amount stated on the lease.
The utility bill must be for a period within the two months immediately preceding the school’s review of this form.
The separate proof of payment must be for the specific bill submitted. The most common submission is two consecutive bills where the second bill shows payment on the first bill. A credited amount on a bill and government agency letter subsidizing payment for utility are also acceptable proofs of payment.
Verify through a home visit. If you are unable to verify through one of the above methods, speak with your school official about a home visit.
Enrolling as a non-resident student
For more information or questions, please email [email protected].
Persons eligible to enroll a student
There may be extenuating circumstances that prevent a parent, guardian, custodian, OPC or adult student from producing approved residency verification documents. In such cases, the family can request that the school conduct a home visit to verify residency.
Non-resident families can enroll their student(s) in a public or public charter school in the District under the following conditions:
- There are no DC residents on the waitlist for the school of choice.
- The student receives an offer from the school to enroll.
- There is a signed and completed tuition agreement filed with OSSE. See the Tuition section for more information.
Tuition must be paid annually and re-enrollment can only take place when all tuition is paid in full. Non-resident students must reapply after completing the terminal grade, which is the final grade that a school offers. Non-resident students are not guaranteed a space at a feeder school, which is one that a student has the right to attend based on their current school or other public schools in DC for the following grade.
Tuition for Non-resident students
Adult non-resident students or the parents, guardians, custodians or other primary caregiver of a minor non-resident student attending a District-funded school shall be subject to and responsible for non-resident tuition payments. See current tuition rates.
Non-resident families attending a public school in the District can pay tuition through the online payment system. For more information, please email [email protected].
If a family is found to be a non-resident without a tuition agreement in place, there are penalties. Penalties include:
- Retroactive payment for the time that the student was enrolled; and
- Exclusion from the school.
- Prosecution by the Office of the Attorney General.
- Outstanding debts will be referred to the Central Collections Unit.
Non-resident Tuition FAQs
For more information about enrolling a non-resident student, please see Non-resident Tuition FAQs (as of March 2023).
Tuition payments are only conducted electronically. If families need more information about the payment process, please contact the Enrollment and Residency team at [email protected] or visit the OSSE Tuition Payment webpage.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. I live in MD, but my child(ren) stays with their grandparents, who live in the District, while I am at work. Does this make my child(ren) eligible to attend DC public school without paying tuition?
- No. The grandparent(s) would have to be the Other Primary Caregiver (OPC). There are listed legal reasons for a person to be listed as an OPC.
2. I own a home in DC and use it as a rental property. Can I use that home to prove residency?
- No. A bona fide resident is defined as a person who has established a physical presence in the District. Just owning a property in DC does not make you a resident for the purposes of attending a DC public school, you must also use it as your primary residence.
3. I don’t live in the District but I am a employee of the District, can I enroll my child(ren) without requiring to pay tuition?
- No. As an employee for the District but not being a bona fide resident you would still need a tuition agreement and could not enroll before any DC residents. There are no scholarships or discounts provided for being a District employee. For more information regarding tuition agreement, please contact Veita Clark at [email protected].
4. I don’t live in the District but my child(ren)’s other parent is a resident of the District. Can my child(ren) attend?
- Yes, if one parent is a bona fide resident and provides document to prove residency. The DC resident parent should be the one to enroll the child(ren) in a DC public school.
Suspicion of Non-Residency
If you suspect someone of attending a public school in DC and is not residing in the District, please let us know. You can notify OSSE through our tip line at (202) 719-6500 or by completing the online tip form.
For more information or questions about the Office of Enrollment & Residency, please contact us at [email protected].