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Department of Education Federal Impact Aid Program – How You Can Help Your Child’s School6 minute read • Jan. 10, 2022
The majority of school-aged military-connected students attend public schools operated by school districts or local education agencies. Many local school districts across the United States include within their boundaries parcels of land that are owned by the federal government, including military installations. Federal property is exempt from local property taxes, resulting in reduced financial resources for the district. Hence, these school districts face special challenges as they strive to provide a quality education and meet the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act, while sometimes operating with less local revenue than is available to other school districts.
That’s why it’s important to understand how your service to our country impacts your child’s school district. Here are a few simple things you can do to support your child’s education.
What is the Federal Impact Aid Program?
The Federal Impact Aid Program provides the reimbursement to school districts with concentrations of children residing on military installations or other federal properties and, to a lesser extent, concentrations of children who have parents in the uniformed serves or employed on federal properties who do not live on military installations. The program was set up to allow districts to receive reimbursement for the education of children who reside on military installations or who have a parent that works on a military/federal property.
You can help your child’s school receive Federal Impact Aid by completing the Parent-Pupil Survey so that the Department of Education can reimburse schools with federally-connected students.
How Federal Impact Aid is determined
The United States Department of Education is required to collect specific information from local education agencies, or LEAs, to determine the number of federally-connected children the district serves. LEAs can use one or both of the following methods to collect information to determine the level of financial aid:
- Parent-Pupil Survey: The form requires parents or guardians to provide student information, such as name, birthdate and school, as well as residence and parent employment information, including but not limited to:
- Student address if on military installation
- Name of the military installation on which a parent is employed
- Name, rank and branch of service of a parent who is a member of the uniformed services on active duty
The form must be signed and dated by the parent or guardian providing the information. All required information must be provided or the student will not be counted as federally connected.
- Source check: The LEA may count the enrollment of federally-connected students by using a source check to substantiate a student’s place of residence or parent’s place of employment on the survey date. A source check is a form provided to the employer (installation official) who identifies the place of employment of the parent of the student claimed and to a housing official who indicates the residence of each student on the survey date.
Importance of Federal Impact Aid to school districts
Public school districts are funded in large part by local revenue. This revenue is primarily a combination of local property taxes on homes and businesses and other local fees. School districts serving military installations are at a fiscal burden because the federal government is exempt from paying taxes on the property it owns.
The presence of federally-owned property impacts school districts in two main ways. First, it reduces the local tax revenue that can be generated for school purposes. Second, projects and activities related to that property can cause changes to the number of people in a community, increasing the number of children to be educated without an increase in the local tax base. Congress created the Federal Impact Aid Program to ensure school districts, and the students and taxpayers in their communities, are not at a financial — and educational — disadvantage. Read more about the positive impact of aid to schools and individuals.
The Defense Department Impact Aid Program is a supplement to the Federal Impact Aid Program and provides assistance to LEAs with specific concentrations of military-dependent children. There are two ways additional funds can be awarded to school districts:
- DOD Impact Aid Supplemental Program provides financial assistance to LEAs that are heavily impacted by the presence of military-connected students. LEAs that had at least 19.5% military-connected students in average daily attendance in the preceding year, as counted on their Federal Impact Aid application, are eligible to receive payment from this program. The DOD Impact Aid Supplemental Program includes the dependent children of active-duty military members and civilian employees of the DOD.
- DOD Impact Aid for Children with Severe Disabilities, or CWSD, provides financial assistance to LEAs with at least two military-connected children with severe disabilities that meet certain special education cost criteria through an application process. DOD Impact Aid for CWSD includes the dependent children of active-duty military members but does not include dependent children of civilian employees of the DOD.
Importance of returning the Impact Aid Survey
The collection of student enrollment for the purpose of impact aid is critically important to school districts. Each survey is significant to school districts on or near installations because the survey affects the amount of reimbursement funding the districts receive. The funding goes into a district’s general fund to pay for operating expenses, such as curriculum, teacher salaries, technology and facility improvements — the same way local taxes fund these expenses.
Privacy is important to the Department of Education, and parents’ personally identifiable information, or PII, is protected at every level:
- Information collected on the Parent-Pupil Survey or Sole Source forms is used only for purposes of submitting the Impact Aid application.
- If the Federal Impact Aid Program needs to review a survey form, the document is shared through a secure electronic exchange system that protects the contents of the document and destroys it following the review.
Military families have a shared responsibility to support the communities in which they live. Impact aid for schools is one small way a military family can help ensure its school district has the necessary funds to provide high quality education to all students.
If you’d like to learn more about how Impact Aid Surveys are processed in your community or what you can do to help, or if you have other questions, contact your local school liaison for information and resources for all of your pre-K-12 education needs.