The federal government provides Impact Aid to partially reimburse school districts that have (a) lost tax revenues (income, sales, property tax) due to a federal presence, and (b) have incurred the cost of providing educational services to federally connected students. Impact Aid goes to local school districts, just like local property taxes, to hire teachers, purchase textbooks and computers, pay for utilities and more.
What is Impact Aid?
- The federal Impact Aid Program is authorized by Title VIII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). It has existed since 1950.
- The program provides funding aid to partially reimburse school districts that lose revenue (income, sales or property taxes) due to the presence of tax-free federal properties (i.e. low-income housing, military installations/housing, native American lands, national parks).
- The reimbursement helps make up for some of the cost of educating so-called federally connected students, those whose parents live or work in federal properties.
Are Impact Aid funds used to benefit my child’s public education?
Yes. Schools with federally connected students are funded in the same manner as schools without federally connected students. The receipt of Impact Aid funds allows the school system to provide a higher level of service for all students than would otherwise be possible.
How does the Department use Impact Aid funds?
These federal reimbursements for a portion of the cost of serving federally connected students are critical in supporting all Hawaii public schools and students.
Historically, funding has offset costs for Hawaii Common Core-aligned curriculum resources, student transportation, school utilities (electricity), teacher substitutes, the Military Liaison program, school portables, and other services.
Note: Substitute teachers required for schools due to employees being out sick or on leave are centrally paid for all schools, as are expenses such as utilities, student transportation, and others.
If not for the receipt of these federal funds, the Hawaii school system would have $40 million to $50 million less a year to operate with, and would need to reduce support for all schools to pay all its expenses. The video above explains the Department’s use of Impact Aid in greater detail.
Why do I have to fill it out when I’m not federally connected?
The information on the completed form helps determine if a parent/guardian resides or work on federal property. The survey is disseminated annually to 180,000 students statewide, across all islands, and schools have a 100% goal. Your support in the completion of the card is appreciated by schools in an effort to meet their goal.
Why do I have to fill it out when it doesn’t help my child specifically?
Every Hawaii public school and each student benefits from the federal Impact Aid funding. Please see: “How does the Department use Impact Aid funds?” above.
Why aren’t funds allocated to my child’s school, specifically for my child?
In Hawaii, a Weighted Student Formula (WSF) allocates funds equitably to schools based on enrollment and the needs of individual students.
Impact Aid funds are general aid for statewide expenditures. School districts file for Impact Aid tax reimbursements after expenses have been incurred. The process is similar to an individual who annually files for federal taxes after the tax year has been completed.
Does the federal reimbursement cover the full cost of educating a federally connected student?
No. Impact Aid funds partially reimburse the Department for the cost of educating federally connected students.
The average cost to educate a student in Hawaii is approximately $12,000. The average reimbursement for a federally impacted student is about $2,000, or 15 percent of the total cost. Hawaii taxpayers and the state government fund the balance.
During the 2013-14 school year, the state accounted for more than 28,000 federally connected students and received more than $41 million. Since federal funds are received after the cost was incurred, every Impact Aid dollar reimbursed helps to provide a quality education for all children and support public schools throughout the state.
How do we know how many federally connected students there are?
Parents of Hawaii public school students are encouraged to complete and return to their school a federal census survey card that is sent to their homes around the beginning of the school year. They should be filled out and returned as soon as they are received, but schools will accept them throughout the school year. If you have not received a survey card, please contact your child’s school.
Also, the Department conducts an Impact Aid Survey to help remind parents about the importance of this federal assistance program.