One of the most common concerns, when a foreign family with children decides to move to the United States, is about the American educational system and where the best schools in the country are located.

Undoubtedly, offering a child the opportunity to study in the USA is today one of the main reasons, besides the security issue, that makes parents decide on the Green Card dream. Check out some information and tips about how American schools work.


As in Brazil, American schools are divided into public and private. But the similarities end there.

American public schools provide free, quality education from kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, and high school. That means, from the first steps until about 18 years old of your children, parents don’t have to worry about the costs of their children’s education, and can save money when it is time for the “kids” to get to college.

Another special quality of American public schools is that they usually represent a district or county. In other words, schools are located in strategic locations in every American city, so students who live in that region can attend classes without having to travel far to do so.

It is interesting to see that since the 1980s there has been a policy of greater government support to provide equipment and training to public schools in smaller cities, which originally were not very populous. Thus, many of the best American public schools are located in small towns, but over time they have grown due to many families making it a priority to provide a first-class education for their children.

Private schools, on the other hand, are also excellent options for those who can afford to pay for their children’s education. They do not depend on government-run funds or the contribution of any kind of city, state, or federal tax, and usually offer a bigger and better infrastructure than public schools, especially in the area of research, laboratories, and everything else that goes into using high technology to improve student learning.

In many cases, even those who cannot afford a private American school might succeed in enrolling in one of the many financial assistance or scholarship programs offered by the educational institutions involved.


Remember that you must live in the district where the school you want to enroll your children is located. The better the school is, the more expensive the local cost of living will be.

As a rule, U.S. schools require the following documents for enrollment: Birth certificate, proof of residence in the district/county where the school is located, health certificate, and up-to-date vaccination card.


In almost every U.S. state, it is mandatory for a child from 5 to 16 years old to be enrolled in a school, and the non-compliance with this law can result in severe penalties for legal guardians that vary from fines to the possibility of deportation from the country (in the case of immigrants) or even, in serious cases, the loss of custody of a minor child.

Green Card holders (legal permanent residents) have the same rights as U.S. citizens when enrolling their children in a school. This right also applies to children of holders of specific types of temporary work or study visas for the USA.

However, there are situations in which a foreigner residing temporarily in the country or waiting to apply for adjustment of status (from non-immigrant to immigrant) cannot enroll their children in public schools. This is because public education is a benefit held by tax revenues and therefore cannot be used by those who are not taxpayers. Therefore, if you are in the U.S. and do not have a Green Card yet, it is always very important to have a consultation with an immigration attorney before enrolling your children in a U.S. public school.


Choosing a good school, whether public or private, is essential since it will determine the children’s future education in the USA. Students’ performance over the years and the evaluation of the schools where they study will directly influence which universities they can go to when they become adults.

According to a survey released by U.S. News magazine, in 2019, the US states with the best schools are Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, Washington, and New Hampshire. Check out the complete survey, which includes the evaluation scores of the top American schools by clicking here.

For more information about the best educational institutions in the USA, check the website

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Did you like this post? We will soon post the next part of this article, telling you how higher education is in the USA, and where the best universities in the country are. Keep following the AG Immigration blog for more information about immigration, tips on everyday life in America, and American culture.