Michigan offers resident students the opportunity to take public school courses online for free. This public school option is for parents who prefer a flexible, home-based environment for their children. The online schools use certified teachers and follow a curriculum designed to provide the students with an education that equals that of other public school students. Most virtual schools offer full-time and part-time enrollment.
The online schools offer core courses similar to the standard courses offered by other programs. They meet all the academic requirements for graduation and for potential admission to colleges. Honors courses and Advanced Placement college-level courses are also available.
All the virtual programs require that students provide a computer and an internet connection. In some cases, the programs provide a computer and an internet allowance to families who cannot afford the equipment. The family is expected to provide a printer, ink, and paper.
In most cases, online students are free to attend school activities in their district. Several no-cost online schools currently serve grades K-12 in Michigan.
Michigan Free Online Public Schools
Highpoint Virtual Academy of Michigan serves Michigan students in grades K-8. Students are offered the same core courses that are available to students in a brick-and-mortar school. Textbooks and instructional materials are provided for the student. Virtual students are invited to participate in school outings and field trips and other social events.
Jenison International Academy is available in West Michigan. Because Jenison is a School of Choice district, any family not residing in the Jenison district can simply apply for non-resident enrollment. JIA is a tuition-free public school serving students in grades K-12.
Insight School of Michigan is a full-time only free virtual public school authorized by Central Michigan University. Currently, the Insight School of Michigan offers grades 6-12.
Michigan Connections Academy is a free K-12 virtual charter school. State-certified teachers provide instruction with support from trained counselors and administrative staff.
Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy serves students in grades K-12. Parents do not pay tuition for their students to attend an online public school. The academy offers core, comprehensive, honors and AP courses.
Michigan Virtual Charter Academy offers full-time enrollment for grades K-12. Because Michigan Virtual Charter Academy is part of the public school system, there is no charge for the curriculum.
Michigan Virtual School offers two free classes per academic term at no cost to parents of students in Michigan. Additional courses require payment of a fee.
Virtual Learning Academy Consortium serves students in grades K-8. The Virtual Learning Academy Consortium serves students in Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.VLAC also serves students in grades 6-8 in Kalamazoo county.
Choosing a Michigan Online Public School
When choosing an online public school, look for an established program that is regionally accredited and has a track record of success. Be wary of new schools that are disorganized, are unaccredited or have been the subject of public scrutiny. For more suggestions on evaluating virtual schools see how to choose an online high school.
About Online Public Schools
Many states now offer tuition-free online schools for resident students under a certain age (often 21). Most virtual schools are charter schools; they receive government funding and are run by private organizations. Online charter schools are subject to fewer restrictions than traditional schools. However, they are reviewed regularly and must continue to meet state standards.
Some states also offer their own online public schools. These virtual programs generally operate from a state office or a school district. Statewide public school programs vary. Some online public schools offer a limited number of remedial or advanced courses not available in brick-and-mortar public school campuses. Others offer full online diploma programs.
A few states choose to fund "seats" for students in private online schools. The number of available seats may be limited and students are usually asked to apply through their public school guidance counselor.