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Supporting Your Child’s Education
What is Impact Aid?
Impact Aid provides payments for a portion of the educational costs of federally connected students. Over half a million children of military personnel are served through by this program. Impact Aid, which was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman in 1950, is designed to directly reimburse public school districts for the loss of traditional revenue sources due to a federal presence or federal activity. Since its inception, the program has been amended many times. Today its legal reference is Public Law 103-382, Title VIII. Traditionally, property, sales, and personal income taxes account for a large portion of the average school district’s annual budget. But federally connected students can adversely affect a school district’s financial base because their parents or guardians do one or more of the following in the school districts that the students attend: 1. Often pay no income taxes or vehicle license fees in their state of residence; 2. Live on non-taxable federal property; 3. Shop at stores that do not generate taxes; or 4. Work on non-taxable federal land. Impact Aid provides a payment to school districts in lieu of lost taxes, to assist with the basic educational needs of students. Impact Aid is one of the few federal education programs in which funds are sent directly to the school district. Impact Aid, however, is subject to the same state regulations as any other school funding. A non-federally impacted school has three main sources of revenue for each student: state aid, local taxes on homes, and local taxes on businesses. When businesses are located on federally connected land, they are exempt from local taxes. In the case of the military, the Soldiers and Sailor Relief Act exempts military personnel from paying certain local personal property taxes and state incomes taxes. Businesses located on military posts may also be exempt from paying commercial property tax and charging sales tax on purchases. For the local school district this can mean a loss of about 25 percent of its revenue. The same is true for homes located on federal property. These homes are exempt from local taxes, and again the school district loses the revenue normally generated from real estate taxes.
Army Family Team Building
In 1994, Congress re-authorized Impact Aid and modified sections of the program. However, the principle remains the same; basic support payments of Impact Aid dollars go directly into a school district’s general fund. These funds are used for general operating expenses such as teacher salaries, utilities, administrative costs, books and supplies. Funding is not provided to private schools. Nationwide, there are four types of federally connected children: 1. Children residing on Indian lands; 2. Military children; 3. Children residing in federal low-rent housing projects; and 4. Children whose parents are civilians but work on federal property. Nationwide, 1.4 million federally connected children are eligible for funding under the program. These students affect more than 1,400 school districts with a total enrollment of more than 15 million. The most important fact to remember about Impact Aid is to obtain the form from the school, sign it, and return it in a timely manner. This must be done each year. Schools have different terms for the Impact Aid form. Many call it a “first count form” or simply a student information form. It is usually sent out during September or October and varies from school to school. When your child brings the Impact Aid form home from school, it means money--dollars your child’s school needs in order to provide a first-rate education program in a wellmaintained building. That one piece of paper is worth about $2,000 per child living on an installation. So, it is very important that you fill it out and return it quickly – many schools have a limited time period to turn in the data. Remember: completely fill out the Impact Aid form each year.
Five Most Important Facts about Impact Aid
1. It is a Department of Education program, not Department of Defense. 2. It has not been fully funded since 1970. Current funding is at 40% of the authorized level. 3. It is intended to replace the tax revenues lost to a community by the double impact of having non-taxable federal property and the expenses caused by the school population related to that property. 4. Students who live off-post are funded at only 10% of the on-post rate.
5. Completely fill out the impact aid card each year. (Providing social security
numbers on the card is not a violation of the privacy act.) If you have any questions, contact your School Liaison Officer.