Impact Aid: Funding That Positively Impacts Education Services for Military Kids
In the hustle and bustle of the new school year, it’s easy for parents to feel overwhelmed by the flood of paperwork from their children’s schools. School supply lists, emergency contact forms, bus schedules—the sea of forms is endless. However, for parents of children in public schools, there is one form they should be sure not to miss—the Impact Aid form. Completing and returning it is one of the most important things parents can do to ensure that schools receive much-needed funding.
What is Impact Aid and why is it important?
Most public schools receive a significant portion of their funding through local property taxes. However, federal lands such as military installations aren’t subject to local taxes. For that reason, school districts that include federal land can’t rely on property taxes to pay their costs.
Impact Aid was created to correct that imbalance and offset some of the revenue lost due to the presence of federal property within a school district. It also helps schools shoulder the additional cost of educating students who are only in the district due to the presence of federal property—such as military kids who move to a district because of their parent’s PCS orders. For school districts with a large federal presence, Impact Aid can represent half or more of their revenue.
There is also a smaller Department of Defense (DoD) Impact Aid program for districts with large numbers of military-connected students. School districts serving large military installations often receive both DoD and Department of Education Impact Aid.
How do school districts use Impact Aid?
Impact Aid funds go directly to school districts to use as they see fit. Districts can use the funds to pay salaries for teachers and staff, purchase and maintain school buses, pay for books or other educational supplies, or anything else the district needs. It’s an essential revenue source to ensure schools can offer a safe, supportive environment and quality education to military kids and their civilian classmates.
How much Impact Aid will my school receive?
Short answer: it depends. Because Impact Aid isn’t fully funded, the Department of Education has created a funding formula to ensure that heavily impacted districts, who rely on Impact Aid for much of their revenue, receive more money per pupil. Districts also receive varying amounts per pupil depending on whether students live on federal property or in the civilian community.
How do schools apply for Impact Aid?
Most schools rely on paper forms to document the number of federally-connected students in their classrooms. These forms are sent home to families early in the school year. It’s important for families to complete and return the forms by the deadline so schools can receive the Impact Aid funds due to them.
At NMFA, we’ve encouraged the Department of Education to find a less cumbersome method of gathering this data, and pilot programs have been launched in some locations. But for most districts, paper forms are the only option.
What can parents do to help?
Fill out and return the Impact Aid form and encourage other military families at your child’s school to do so. It’s a quick and easy way to help your school receive the funds they need to provide children with the high-quality education they deserve.
By: Eileen Huck, Government Relations Senior Deputy Director