Pre-K Application Process
To be considered for admission to a Chicago preschool program in both elementary school and community-based settings, families must submit an application.
Apply to Chicago Early Learning Pre-K and Childcare Programs This Year (SY20-21, SY21-22)
For most preschool programs, you can apply through the Chicago Early Learning website prior to the school year your child will attend a preschool program.
Apply for Tuition-based Preschool Programs (SY21-22)
Tuition-based programs offer an affordable 10-hour day during the school year. Families submit their application directly to the school they are interested in attending.
Transitioning to Kindergarten
Students enrolled in a CPS Magnet Pre-K will automatically be fed into kindergarten at that school without having to apply again. Students attending all other CPS early childhood programs and nonschool-based child care programs must submit an application the year before the student will start kindergarten.
Elementary School Application Process
GoCPS, the district’s online application system, provides access to the application for all district elementary schools. To enter kindergarten, a child must be five years old, on or before September 1st. To start first grade, a child must be six years old, on or before September 1st. There are exceptions to the kindergarten and first grade age requirements. See Accelerated Placement for information about early entrance and eligibility requirements.
Apply to District Managed Schools
Every Chicago street address is assigned to a neighborhood elementary school. Students can always attend their neighborhood school without having to apply, but CPS encourages all families to submit an application so the school knows how many students plan to enroll.
In addition to their neighborhood school, families can choose to apply to other schools across the city. If you decide to apply to school other than your neighborhood school, you must submit an application online through GoCPS or by paper application.
Students enrolled in a CPS Magnet Pre-K will automatically be fed into kindergarten at that school without having to apply again. Students attending all other CPS early childhood programs and nonschool-based child care programs must submit an application to attend an elementary school other than their neighborhood school.
Apply to Charter & Contract Schools
Charter schools are approved by the Board of Education but operate independently from the Board and each other.
Each charter school has its own curriculum, schedule, calendar, and admissions procedures that may differ from public schools. There are charter schools operated by community organizations, universities, foundations, and teachers—all are held accountable for high student academic achievement by the Board of Education. Generally, charter schools admit students based on lottery if there are more applications than available spaces.
Contract schools are operated by private entities under contract with CPS to provide additional education options to families and students. They also have their own curriculum, schedule, calendar, and admissions procedures that may differ from public schools.
Contact the charter and contract schools you are interested in directly to obtain an application and learn how to enroll your child.
High School Application Process
District Managed and Charter/Contract High Schools
GoCPS, the district’s online application system, provides access to the application for all district and charter high schools. Students attending a general education program at their local high school are not required to submit an application, but CPS encourages all students to submit an application so the school knows how many students plan to enroll. For all other high school programs in the district, families must apply online at GoCPS or submit a paper application in September the year before the student will enroll in high school.
Re-Engagement to High School
Options Schools provide a path to high school graduation for students who are currently not enrolled in school or are enrolled but stopped attending school. Options Schools include district managed, charter, and contract schools.
Families can apply for early entrance to kindergarten in the fall one year before the child will start school.