Where do New Hampshire students go to school? 3 key takeaways on K-12 school enrollment

Enrollment in public district schools, private schools, and homeschool programs dropped between 2021 and 2022, according to recent data released by the NH Department of Education. 

The number of students enrolled in public district schools dropped by about 1%, which is consistent with a decades-long trend due mostly to the state’s aging population. Private school enrollment dropped by 3%, while the number of homeschooled students dropped by 15%. 

Enrollment in public charter schools increased by 12%, largely due to three new charter schools that have opened in Fall 2022. 

In 2022, there were 2,447 fewer school-aged youth enrolled in any kind of school in New Hampshire compared to the previous year. Since 2012, the number of school-aged youth has dropped by 25,315 — a decline of about 12%. 

Note: These figures do not include students attending interstate compacts, which have been fewer than 100 since the NHED began including them in their reporting in 2019. These figures also include preschool and post-graduate students due to the nature of the reports. 

The vast majority of students attend public schools.

About 162,000 of the 187,000 school-aged youth in New Hampshire attend public district schools, or about 86%. Nine percent of students attend a private school, and 3% of students attend a public charter school. The remaining 2% are in homeschool programs. 

The number of school-aged youth has declined over the past year, from 189,481 in 2021 to 187,034 in 2022. 

There were sharp declines in homeschool enrollment, while private school enrollment dropped slightly. 

The number of students enrolled in homeschooling programs has dropped by 40% over the past two years but still remains slightly higher than pre-pandemic levels. In 2022, 3,636 students were enrolled in a homeschooling program, down 15% from 2021. 

Enrollment in private schools has declined by 3.2% after its five-year peak in 2021. Overall, student enrollment in private schools has been steadily decreasing for two decades, from 24,114 students during its peak in 2001 to 16,119 students in 2022. 

Charter school growth is the largest in last five years

Public charter schools enrolled an additional 592 students between 2021 and 2022 — the largest increase in the last five years. In previous years, enrollment has typically increased by about 8% annually; this year, it was 12%. 

Three new public charter schools opened in 2022 – Coastal Waters Chartered Public School, Heartwood Public Charter School, and Lionheart Classical Academy Chartered Public School – which accounted for 61% of the increase in public charter school enrollment. One public charter school, Cocheco Academy for the Arts, closed after the 2021-2022 school year due to declining enrollment.

Recent public charter school growth in New Hampshire has largely been the result of a $46 million federal grant to open new schools and expand existing ones. The grant was awarded in 2019, and has funded five new public charter schools, one that has not opened but has obtained state approval, and four that are seeking state approval by the end of the year. However, changes in the federal rules for the program may impact future grant awards.

The role of school voucher enrollment is unclear

In September 2022, 3,025 students enrolled in the statewide school voucher program, also known as  “Education Freedom Accounts,” or EFAs. It is unknown at this time if, or how many of, those students are enrolled in private schools and how many are homeschooled. Because of state laws regarding data collection, it is also unclear whether school voucher recipients are included in the enrollment figures above.

About the Data

  • Public and Charter School Enrollment: School Enrollments by School and Grade, which counts the number of youth enrolled in public and charter schools on October 1 of each year. The figures above do not include students who attended public schools as part of interstate compacts. These figures include preschool, special education, ungraded secondary, and postgraduate students.
  • Private School Enrollment: Nonpublic Enrollments, which counts the number of youth enrolled in New Hampshire private schools on October 1 of each year. These numbers are self-reported by school and may include out-of-state students attending a private school in New Hampshire. Similarly, students who attend a private school out of state are not counted. These figures include all grades, which may include preschool.
  • Homeschool Enrollment: Home Schooled Fall Enrollments, which counts the number of youth who are homeschooled. Note: This analysis does not include homeschooled enrollment data prior to 2018 due to a change in the collection methodology and definition (see: RSA 193-A).