Find answers to frequently asked questions about the GoCPS Pre-K application process.
Through the GoCPS application process, you can apply to the two magnet preschools: Drummond, and Suder.
The application process for all other preschools takes place in the spring and is managed by the city of Chicago (visit chicagoearlylearning.org or call 312-229-1690 for information).
You can apply to the two magnet preschools referenced above via the online application site or via the paper Choice Elementary Schools application. Identify the schools to which you want to apply and submit your application. Students are selected via computerized lottery.
Your application must be mailed to the Office of Access and Enrollment. Applications cannot be submitted via fax, email, CPS mail run, or in person. Please follow the directions below when you mail your application:
Send the applications via certified mail so that you will have a receipt;
Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or postcard, which will be mailed back to you as a receipt once your applications are received; and
Mail the application in plenty of time to ensure that it is postmarked by the due date.
If you do not have a receipt and your application does not reach the Office of Access and Enrollment, your child will not be considered for any of the schools to which you applied. Applications received after the application deadline cannot be processed.
Yes, you have to live in Chicago in order for your child to enroll and attend. You don't have to live in Chicago for your child to apply, participate in the computerized lottery selection process, or even be selected, but you have to provide proof of city of Chicago residency by July 1.
When you fill out your child's application -- whether online or paper -- you must indicate your child's "primary address." The primary address is defined as your child’s regular, fixed nighttime residence. Note that you must use the address that is your primary address at the time that you apply. You cannot apply using an address where you plan to live in the future.
If you share joint custody and your child sleeps at night at only one residence the majority of the time, that is the child's primary address, and that is the address that must be entered on the application. In cases of joint custody where a child's residence is equally divided between two addresses, either address may be used. Note that the address of only ONE parent can be used; your child cannot be considered for schools by using more than one address, and your child cannot submit applications with different addresses. The address that is used for the application and selection process must be the same, single address. If your child submits applications with more than one address, he/she will be considered for the selection process using the address on the first application that is processed by the Office of Access and Enrollment.
No. Transportation is not provided for preschool students.
For the school year, your child must be three years old by September 1 in order to apply for preschool for three-year-olds, and four years old by September 1 in order to apply for preschool for four-year-olds.
If you apply online, you can make updates via your online account to your address and telephone number. If you apply via paper application, you can make updates via the online account that will be opened on your behalf by the Office of Access and Enrollment, or you can call the Office of Access and Enrollment at 773-553-2060 from a phone number on your account. For the purposes of determining tiers and proximity boundaries, address changes must be received by the Office of Access and Enrollment. If you change your address and you accept an offer from a school, you will be required to provide proof of both the address on the application, and the new address, at the time of your child’s registration.
To correct your child’s CPS ID number, IEP/504 Plan status, current grade, or other student-related information, contact the Office of Access and Enrollment at 773-553-2060 from a phone number on your GoCPS account.
We encourage you to attend virtual Open Houses (visit go.cps.edu/dates-and-events) and conduct any other school-related research BEFORE submitting your application, to decrease the need for changing school choices. If you apply online, you can make changes by deleting your application and submitting a new one. If you apply via paper application, you can make changes via the online account that will be opened on your behalf by the Office of Access and Enrollment, or you can call the Office of Access and Enrollment at 773-553-2060 from a phone number on your account.
You can apply to a total of three schools through the GoCPS process, depending on your child’s age. You can apply to the three- or four-year-old programs at Drummond and Suder.
No. The schools are considered equally in separate computerized lotteries. They are not ranked in any kind of order. As a result, it is possible for your child to receive an offer from more than one school.
No. You should apply only to those schools where you would accept an offer.
Computerized lotteries are conducted to ensure that all children have an equal chance to be accepted at schools that do not require testing. Your child will be included in the computerized lottery in a specific category (also known as a queue): sibling, proximity, tier, or general. Based on your child’s category and the number of seats allocated for that category at the school to which you are applying, the computerized lottery will randomly select students to fill the available seats. The remaining students are randomly assigned a waitlist number in that category, starting with number 1.
There are four types of lotteries:
Sibling lottery: conducted only for students who have a brother or sister in the same household, who already attends the school to which the student is applying, and who will still be enrolled in that school in the school year.
Staff preference lottery: conducted only for students applying to the entry-grade level at a school where their parent or guardian is a member of the staff. Note that these seats are based on space availability after siblings are accommodated. (More on this process can be found in the following question.)
Proximity lottery: conducted only for students applying to the entry-grade level who live within a 1.5-mile radius of the school.
General lottery: conducted for all students not included in the sibling lottery.
Students who are not selected for a seat through the computerized lottery are randomly assigned a number on a waitlist.
For Choice Elementary Schools and all district high schools that select students through a computerized lottery, two seats will be allocated at the entry-grade level for children of teachers or staff members currently employed at that school. If there are more than two children who qualify and apply for these seats, a lottery will be held and seats will be filled by computerized lottery. (The availability of these seats is based on space.) For the purposes of this policy, the term "children" means natural children, stepchildren, foster children and adopted children, as evidenced by documentation required by the CEO or designee. If there are minimum criteria for a school, the student must meet eligibility requirements in order to qualify.
The selections for each type of school on the Choice Elementary School Application are conducted independently from each other. Therefore, your child can be selected for any number of schools, depending on the number of schools to which you apply. Your child could be selected for no schools and placed on the waitlist for all of your choices; selected for some schools and on the waitlist for the others; or selected for all of the schools to which you apply.
After the available spaces in each grade are filled through the computerized lottery, waitlist numbers are randomly assigned, beginning with number 1, to the remaining students in each category. Parents of students who are selected in the lottery are given approximately three weeks to accept an offered space. After the deadline for accepting an offer, principals must fill any remaining spaces through the waiting list, beginning with number 1 and selecting students based on their category. For example, if a student was selected in the proximity lottery and the parent does not accept the space, the principal will contact the parent of the first student on the proximity waiting list for that grade to offer him/her the available space. If this student declines the offer, the principal will contact the second student on the proximity waiting list for that grade, and so on. Principals are not allowed to contact students outside of the waiting list order, and offers must be made to replace students in the same category. For instance, a principal cannot offer a space to the student who is number 1 on a waiting list and then skip the next five students to offer a space to the student who is number 6 on the list. As another example, a principal cannot attempt to fill a space declined by a student from the sibling category by offering the space to a student on the general waiting list, unless the sibling waitlist has been exhausted. (Note that when parents of waitlisted students are contacted, they will be given 48 business hours to accept or decline a seat. Be sure to include at least one telephone number on your application where you can be reached at all times.)
NOTE: If your child is currently on a waitlist from last year’s application process, and has not received an offer for the current school year, you will need to reapply for the school year if you want to be considered for that year. Waitlists expire in February and are not maintained from year to year.
Results will be released in the spring. If you apply using the online application site, your results can be accessed via your online application account. If you apply using a paper application, your notification letter will be sent to your home address via U.S. mail. In addition, your results will be accessible via an online GoCPS account that will be opened on your behalf by the Office of Access and Enrollment.
No. Accepting an offer from a school where your child is selected does not affect your child’s placement on the waitlists at any other schools. You can accept an offer that you received and, if you later receive an offer from a school where your child was waitlisted, you may accept that offer instead, if you wish. Should you choose to accept a later offer, you will be responsible for notifying the first school of your child’s change in status.
If your child is enrolled in the PreK for four-year-olds at Drummond, Inter-American, or Suder, you do not have to apply for kindergarten if you want your child to remain in that school. HOWEVER, if your child is in a preschool program at any other Chicago public school, that school is not your neighborhood school, and you want your child to remain at that school for kindergarten, you will need to submit an application. If you do not apply, your child will not be included in the kindergarten selection process.
All students with disabilities are eligible to apply to magnet schools and programs. Appropriate services within these programs will be provided to meet the student’s individual needs as delineated on the Individualized Education Program (IEP). If a student with a mobility impairment is selected by lottery for a magnet school or program that is not accessible, transportation will be provided to a comparable magnet program at an accessible school.
Yes. All ELs are eligible to apply to magnet schools and programs.
No. Magnet preschool programs are designed for all students, and students are randomly selected through a computerized lottery. No testing is required.
Sibling applicants to magnet schools will be offered seats to the extent that space is available. If a school receives more applications from siblings than there are seats available, a computerized lottery will be conducted to fill the seats. In order to be eligible, the enrolled sibling and the sibling applicant must live in the same household and must be attending the same school for the school year. (The term “sibling” means natural siblings, step siblings, foster siblings and adopted siblings.) Your child cannot be enrolled as a sibling if the enrolled sibling is currently in a Chicago Early Learning or tuition-based prekindergarten, or if the enrolled sibling graduates or transfers to another school. If the enrolled sibling graduates or transfers to another school, your child’s offer will be rescinded and your child will be placed in the general applicant queue. If you do not submit an application, or if you do not provide identifying sibling information on your child’s application (currently enrolled student's name, current school name, and CPS ID number), your child will not be given sibling preference in the selection process.
For applications to magnet, magnet cluster, or open enrollment schools, parents of twins, triplets and other higher order multiple births have the option of linking their applications together so that the students are either admitted together or placed next to each other on the waitlist. If you choose not to indicate on the application that your children are multiples, their applications will be independently processed in the lottery and their applications will not be linked. (The admission policy adopts the traditional meaning of twins and multiples, meaning siblings produced in the same pregnancy. Under this policy, the terms twins and multiples do not include siblings adopted during the same year, adopted siblings born during the same 12-month period, biological siblings born during the same 12-month period, or any other circumstance in which siblings are close in age.) Twins, triplets, and other multiples do not have preference or consideration when applying to Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools.
For Choice Elementary Schools and all district high schools that select students through a computerized lottery, two seats will be allocated at the entry level grade for children of teachers or staff members currently employed at that school. If there are more than two children who qualify and apply for these seats, a lottery will be held and seats will be filled by computerized lottery. (The availability of these seats is based on space.) For the purposes of this policy, the term "children" means natural children, stepchildren, foster children and adopted children, as evidenced by documentation required by the CEO or designee. If there are minimum criteria for a school, the student must meet eligibility requirements in order to qualify. You must be staffed at a school in order to apply for staff preference at that school.
All applicants to the magnet preschools (Drummond, Inter-American, and Suder) will receive their first-round results via their online GoCPS account. An online account has been created for paper applicants by the Office of Access and Enrollment, based on the email address or phone number on the paper application. (If you submitted a paper application and have not received instructions on how to access your online account, contact the Office of Access and Enrollment at 773-553-2060 or <a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.). Results will be posted to the online GoCPS accounts. (Note that the application process for the non-magnet preschools is managed by the city of Chicago, not CPS. Visit chicagoearlylearning.org for information on that process.)
Students can apply to up to two of the magnet preschools. Students can receive anywhere between zero and two offers. If a student does not receive an offer, they will be waitlisted for that school. There is no guarantee that students will receive any offers.
Accepting And Declining Offers
Online applicants will accept or decline offers via their online GoCPS account. Paper applicants can accept or decline offers by calling the Office of Access and Enrollment or via the online GoCPS account that was opened for them.
No. Families can only accept one offer.
If a family ACCEPTS an offer and later decides that they want to decline it, they can do so. If a family DECLINES an offer, they cannot go back and change that decision once it is submitted. If an offer is accidentally declined, the family should contact the Office of Access and Enrollment at 773-553-2060, weekdays between 8 am and 6 pm, or <a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>, before the designated deadline to accept or decline offers. Offer declines cannot be reversed by the Office of Access and Enrollment after this deadline.
No. Families will see a confirmation page online after they submit their decision. For their records, they should either print this page or save it to PDF.
The waitlist process opens after the Round 1 Accept/Decline Deadline passes. When the waitlist process opens, schools can begin filling seats in Choice Schools by contacting waitlisted students, beginning with the waitlist number of 1 and continuing in numerical order. Note that waitlist seats are offered based on the selection category, if applicable. For instance, if a seat is declined by a student in a program’s the proximity category, that seat will be offered to the student who is number 1 on the proximity waitlist.
If a student is waitlisted, the family has the option of withdrawing from the waitlist if they no longer wish to be considered, or remaining on the waitlist if they are still interested in the program. If the student remains on the waitlist, there is no action to take. If the school has a seat available, and the student’s number on the waitlist is reached, the parent will be contacted by the school. The following morning, the offer will appear on the family’s online account and the family will receive a communication from the Office of Access and Enrollment stating that there has been a change to the student’s waitlist status. From that point, families have 48 business hours to accept or decline. Online applicants will accept or decline waitlist offers via their online application account. Paper applicants can accept or decline waitlist offers via the online application account that was opened for them, or they can accept or decline the offer via phone. Families need to ensure that their contact information is up to date on their GoCPS account.
The meaning of 48 business hours is similar to that of two business days. We do not say two business days, however, because there is a specific time factor involved. For example, an offer extended at 9 am on a Friday would not expire until the following Tuesday at 9 am.
If a family accepts either an offer, they will remain on any waitlists they are on, unless they withdraw from the waitlist.
No. Once a family withdraws a student from a waitlist, they cannot go back and change that decision. However, if the family does not initially withdraw a student from a waitlist, and they later decide that they want to withdraw, they can do so.
If a family accepts a first-round offer, and later receives an offer from a school where the student is waitlisted, the family can accept the waitlisted offer. This will automatically decline the first-round offer they accepted. If the family does not prefer the seat in the waitlisted program, they will decline the waitlist offer and keep the first-round offer they previously accepted.
The online accounts will be updated once a week to show any changes in waitlist status.
Schools are directed to try to reach families through any available contact phone numbers on their GoCPS account. They are not required to email unless there is no phone number on the account, and they will not be expected to make multiple attempts.
Second-Round Application Process
No. The magnet preschools have extensive waitlists and will not have available seats for families to apply to in a second round. Any available seats will be filled through the waitlists.
On the online GoCPS account, contact information can be updated under the Family Profile. It is important to maintain the contact information listed on the GoCPS account, as this is the information utilized by schools to contact families regarding waitlist offers.
Families have to provide proof of address when they register for the school. If a student moved to a different address after they submitted their application, they must provide proof of address for both the address on the application and the new address. All offers are contingent upon this proof.
Families can click the ‘Forgot Username’ and/or ‘Forgot Password’ links on the online application site if they cannot remember their account information. If they are still unable to access their account, they should contact the Office of Access and Enrollment from a telephone number or email address on their account.