Free Online Virtual Schools

The costs of homeschooling a high schooler can add up quickly. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to save money when homeschooling a teen, but the question of accreditation may remain. After all, most accredited homeschooling programs for high schoolers can ask for astronomical tuition rates into the thousands per semester and still call it “affordable” so you are convinced it is fiscally the best option. 

Accredited high school education does not have to break the bank

Many states offered a virtual school option for free based on the accredited public school system. While it is not legally considered homeschooling, your teen will still have the flexibility of completing school from the comfort of your home.

The question comes down to your budget and your priorities. Do you have limited spending money for homeschooling but your priority is ensuring an accredited high school education for future higher education opportunities? Would you prefer your teen studied at home to eliminate certain issues at the school (bullying, medicine administration, special needs, safety, etc.)? Virtual school may be a good option for your family.

In this article, we discuss the differences between online homeschooling and virtual school and how to find virtual school resources in your state.

  • Online Homeschooling vs. Virtual School
  • States Offering Free Virtual School
  • More Information for Homeschooling High School

Online Homeschooling vs. Virtual School

The main difference between online homeschooling and virtual school is the person filling the legal role of the teacher. With online homeschooling, or any kind of homeschooling for that matter, parents take on the legal responsibilities for providing required instruction to their children. Be sure to check your state laws for specific information.

With virtual school, the state and certified teachers are responsible for providing the required instruction to the students. The parents, in that instance, are usually considered learning coaches or guides to help your children work through assignments as needed.

With online homeschooling, the parents have ultimate control over which lessons are taught, the pace of the curriculum, and the days spent on schooling. With virtual school, parents must help their children fulfill the set schedule and syllabus, just as they would with sending their children to traditional schools. Certain parents may find this restricting and stressful, while other parents may find it freeing and gives them peace of mind.

Please keep in mind that even though virtual school is taught by certified teachers, parents must still be involved to an extent to keep your child on track. Otherwise, without structured accountability, students may fall behind.

Here are a few key elements to highlight the differences between online homeschool and virtual school!

  • Virtual school assignments are taught by certified teachers
    • Online homeschool assignments are facilitated by homeschool parents
  • Virtual school is free through the state’s public school system
    • Online homeschool programs usually require a tuition, package, or subscription fee.
  • Virtual school follows a set schedule. Virtual school must be planned around just like traditional school days.
    • Online homeschooling usually offers the flexibility to take days off or change the schedule as needed. Homeschooling curriculum can usually be planned around other events like music lessons, sports, and co-op meetings.
  • Virtual school offers a ready-to-go curriculum, led by the teacher.
    • Online homeschooling curriculum lessons can usually be mixed, skipped, or completed in a different order. Parents typically have the final say over the schedule and the lessons taught.

States Offering Free Virtual School

A few states do not offer free virtual school options, unfortunately. However, it is becoming an increasingly common option and more states are offering virtual schools every year.

View the table below to see what options are available in your state! Note: an easy way to check your state is by browsing K12.com.

State  Online Schools
AL Alabama Free Virtual Schools
AK Tuition-Based Alaska Virtual Schools
AZ Arizona Free Virtual Schools
 CA California Free Virtual School
 CO Colorado Free Virtual Schools
CT Tuition-Based Connecticut Virtual Schools
 DE Tuition-Based Delaware Virtual Schools
 FL  Florida Free Virtual Schools
GA  Georgia Free Virtual Schools
 HI  Tuition-Based Hawaii Virtual Schools
 ID Idaho Free Virtual Schools
 IL Tuition-Based Illinois Virtual Schools
IN Indiana Free Virtual Schools
IA Iowa Free Virtual School
KS Kansas Free Virtual Schools
KT Tuition-Based Kentucky Virtual Schools
LA Louisiana Free Virtual School
ME Maine Free Virtual School
MI Michigan Free Virtual Schools
 MN Minnesota Free Virtual Schools
MS Tuition-Based Mississippi Virtual Schools
MI Missouri Free Virtual Schools
MT Tuition-Based Montana Virtual Schools
NC North Carolina Free Virtual School
NE Nebraska Free Virtual School
NV Nevada Free Virtual School
NH Tuition-Based New Hampshire Virtual Schools
NJ Tuition-Based New Jersey Virtual Schools
NM New Mexico Free Virtual School
OH Ohio Free Virtual School
OK Oklahoma Free Virtual School
OR Oregon Free Virtual Schools
PA Pennsylvania Free Virtual Schools
RI Tuition-Based Rhode Island Virtual Schools
SC South Carolina Free Virtual Schools
SD South Dakota Free Virtual School
TN Tennessee Free Virtual School
TX Texas Free Virtual Schools
UT Utah Free Virtual Schools
VT Tuition-Based Vermont Virtual Schools
VA Virginia Free Virtual School
WA Washington Free Virtual Schools
WV Tuition-Based West Virginia Virtual Schools
WI Wisconsin Free Virtual Schools
WY Wyoming Free Virtual Schools
MA Tuition-Based Massachusetts Virtual Schools
NY Tuition-Based New York Virtual Schools
MD Tuition-Based Maryland Virtual Schools
AR Arkansas Free Virtual Schools
ND Tuition-Based North Dakota Virtual Schools

More Information for Homeschooling High School