MADISON, Wis. -

The leader of a Wisconsin school voucher group said he expects thousands of families to apply to be a part of the program by Friday's deadline.

Forty-eight private and religious schools or school systems want to accept voucher students starting in the fall, but enrollment is capped at 500 students. If more than 500 apply, only the 25 with the most applicants will be allowed into the program.

School Choice Wisconsin president Jim Bender said Thursday he has heard from 20 schools that know of about 1,600 people who applied. Bender said given that, he expects the final total to be much higher.

State Department of Public Instruction spokesman Patrick Gasper said details about how many people applied won't be announced until sometime next week.