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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for
Supplementary Instruction

1. Q: What is the purpose of the supplementary instruction allowance and what can it be used for?

2. Q: How much is the supplementary instruction allowance? Does it count against the "school at post" education allowance maximums?

3. Q: Can I use the supplementary instruction allowance for a U.S. government course for my child at boarding school?

4. Q: What is a "school at post"?

5. Q: I've heard that I do not qualify for the supplementary instruction allowance if my child doesn't attend the base school. Is that true and what is a base school?

6. Q: Can I use the supplementary instruction allowance to pay for Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) Courses if the base school does not offer these courses?

7. Q: My child's school, which is not the base school, does not offer physical education. Can I use the supplementary instruction allowance to pay for P.E. classes?

8. Q: My child is one of several American high school juniors at post, none of whom have taken U.S. history. None of the local schools, including the base school, offer any American history courses. Can we pool our supplementary instruction resources and pay a local teacher to teach an American history class? Can we pay one of the children's parents to teach the class? If not, can we use the allowance to pay for course materials when a parent is teaching the course?

9. Q: Help! The base school requires that a child have completed Algebra I to enter the 9th grade. My son has only completed Pre-Algebra courses. Can I use supplementary instruction to get him caught up in math?

10. Q: My daughter has not taken chemistry and is entering the 10th grade. Students in the school at post's honors program take chemistry in the 9th grade, while others take it in the 10th grade. Without chemistry, my daughter will not be allowed in the honors program. Can I pay for it using the supplementary instruction allowance?

11. Q: My 8th grader attends an international school with an integrated math curriculum, which means algebra and geometry are taught together in the junior high and high school years. This system is very different from that in U.S. public schools where a child would take the first year of algebra in one grade, geometry in the next, and the second year of algebra in the third year. We plan to transfer back to the States next year when my son will be entering high
school, but he will not have had enough algebra to have finished Algebra I and enter 9th grade Geometry. Can I use the supplementary instruction allowance to pay for algebra tutoring during the school year so that my child finishes the Algebra I coursework?

12. Q: The Department of State convinced us to take an assignment in a Francophone country. There are no adequate English-language schools at post. We don't want to send our children away to boarding school, but they have no knowledge of the French language. Can we use the allowance so that they can learn French?

13. Q: Throughout our careers, my spouse or domestic partner and I have been assigned to countries where French is widely spoken, and our daughter, a 5th grader, would benefit greatly by attending a French-language school. There is an adequate English-language school at post, but we would like our daughter to go to the French school. Her French is not proficient enough for her to enter the 5th grade at this school. Can we use the supplementary instruction allowance so that she can enter school at the proper grade?

14. Q: My family left post three months ago on authorized departure ("evacuation"). While we were in the United States, my son attended a public high school that did not offer all of the courses that his high school at post offers. When we returned, the school told us that he would require additional class time in order to complete the school year. My son does not attend the base school. Can I use the supplementary instruction allowance for his additional instruction?

15. Q: My daughter was part of the Gifted and Talented (GT) program at her school in the United States. When we arrived at post, we found out that no such program existed at the base school at post. Can we use supplementary instruction funds to provide GT program instruction? What if the base school does provide GT program instruction, but my daughter's school doesn't?

16. Q: How do I provide documentation that my child belongs in a Gifted and Talented (GT) or equivalent program?

17. Q: I want my Gifted and Talented child to appreciate the arts. Can I use the supplementary instruction allowance to pay for musical appreciation classes?

18. Q: My child is already busy enough during the school year. Can I use the supplementary instruction allowance to pay for his U.S. government course during the summer provided that the course meets all of the requirements?

1. Q: What is the purpose of the supplementary instruction allowance and what can it be used for?

A: The purpose of supplementary instruction is to provide dependent children the opportunity to take courses not offered at the school at post but customarily offered in U.S. public schools or to provide additional instruction
that may be required by a school for a child to remain in the same grade or progress to the next grade in that school's curriculum. See DSSR 276.9 for specific uses of the allowance.

2. Q: How much is the supplementary instruction allowance? Does it count against the "school at post" education allowance maximums?

A: In addition to the allowance authorized for "school at post" (DSSR 274.11), an additional amount up to $4,100 (as of January 2010) may be granted for supplementary instruction (DSSR 274.12a). Supplementary instruction is considered an allowable expense for those attending "school at post", but is not used to calculate the "school at post" education allowance rates listed in DSSR 920. Children who are utilizing the special needs education allowance at post are also eligible for the supplementary instruction allowance.

3. Q: Can I use the supplementary instruction allowance for a U.S. government course for my child at boarding school?

A: No, supplementary instruction benefits are considered an
allowable expense for those attending "school at post" (DSSR 271d). A child attending boarding school is at a "school away from post" (DSSR 271e) and is ineligible for the supplementary instruction allowance.

4. Q: What is a "school at post"?

A: DSSR 271.d defines "school at post" as an elementary or secondary school within daily commuting distance of the employee's post of assignment.

5. Q: I've heard that I do not qualify for the supplementary instruction allowance if my child doesn't attend the base school. Is that true and what is a base school?

A: Not necessarily. Generally, the supplementary instruction allowance is only available if the base school does not provide the required instruction in courses normally offered by U.S. public schools. However, if a child attends a school other than the base, an employee may be reimbursed for supplementary instruction for reasons outlined in DSSR 276.9 even if the base school offers the required course IF the total educational grant and the supplementary instruction amounts do not exceed the maximum "school at post" allowance.

The "base school" is the school on which the "school at post" education allowance is based. The base school is usually the least expensive, adequate school available to USG students at the foreign post/location. With the exception of the U.S. Department of Defense Schools in foreign locations, the U.S. Department of State's Office of Overseas Schools determines adequacy by how closely a foreign post/location school curriculum aligns with the U.S. public school curriculum so that a child can transition to the next higher grade in a U.S. public school.

6. Q: Can I use the supplementary instruction allowance to pay for Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) Courses if the base school does not offer these courses?

A: Yes, DSSR 276.9a states that supplementary instruction may be used to pay for courses normally offered by public schools in the United States when the "base school at post" does not provide these courses. Because AP and IB courses are generally offered in U.S public schools, these courses are an allowable supplementary expense.

7. Q: My child's school, which is not the base school, does not offer physical education. Can I use the supplementary instruction allowance to pay for P.E. classes?

A: Maybe. Because P.E. is a normal part of the curriculum at U.S public schools, the allowance may be used to pay for a P.E. course if the base school does not offer any physical education courses. (See DSSR 276.9a).

8. Q: My child is one of several American high school juniors at post, none of whom have taken U.S history. None of the local schools, including the base school, offer any American history courses. Can we pool our supplementary instruction resources and pay a local teacher to teach an American history class? Can we pay one of the children's parents to teach the class? If not, can we use the allowance to pay for course materials when a parent is teaching the course?

A: It depends. Because U.S history is a course customarily offered in U.S public schools and because it isn't offered by schools at post (DSSR 276.9a), including the base school, the allowance may be used to pay for such a course. There is no prohibition on families pooling their resources to set up a formal course. A local teacher may be hired to teach the children U.S history. The parent of a child receiving the supplementary instruction allowance may not be reimbursed for teaching his or her own child. However, the regulations do not prohibit an employee or his or her spouse, or his or her domestic partner from being compensated for teaching the children of other employees. Also, a parent teaching his or her own child may be reimbursed for course materials used to teach the child.

For example, if five parents at post want to pool their supplementary instruction resources to establish an American history class and they want to pay one of the parents to teach it, we suggest that the per student cost be divided into two parts. One cost would be for course materials and renting classroom space, while the other would be to pay the teacher's salary. All employees could be reimbursed for the course materials and classroom space.  In addition, all employees except the employee whose spouse or domestic partner was the teacher, could be reimbursed for salary-related costs. The teacher/parent would deduct the cost of educating his/her own child from his/her salary. For example, if the teacher/parent was charging $1000 to teach the course and one of the five students was his/her child, he/she would only be reimbursed $800 from the supplementary instruction allowance.

Please note, however, that an individual teacher cannot confer high school credit. We recommend that the instructor use a standardized distance learning course that is accepted in the United States for high school students, so that the students may receive credit upon fulfilling course requirements.
 Also note, per DSSR 040m(2), "Any child or children of a domestic partner of an employee shall be deemed a stepchild of the employee."

9. Q: Help! The base school requires that a child have completed Algebra I to enter the 9th grade. My son has only completed Pre-Algebra courses. Can I use supplementary instruction to get him caught up in math?

A: Yes, supplementary instruction may be used to pay for additional instruction to enable a child to enter the next grade or to remain in a grade at the school. (See DSSR 276.9c.)

10. Q: My daughter has not taken chemistry and is entering the 10th grade. Students in the school at post's honors program take chemistry in the 9th grade, while others take it in the 10th grade. Without chemistry, my daughter will not be allowed in the honors program. Can I pay for it using the supplementary instruction allowance?

A: No. You cannot use the supplementary instruction allowance to get your child into an honors program. The allowance is intended to help students remain in the same grade at a post abroad, but not to ensure them a place in the honors program. (See DSSR 276.9.)

11. Q: My 8th grader attends an international school with an integrated math curriculum, which means algebra and geometry are taught together in the junior high and high school years. This system is very different from that in U.S. public schools where a child would take the first year of algebra in one grade, geometry in the next, and the second year of algebra in the third year. We plan to transfer back to the States next year when my son will be entering high school, but he will not have had enough algebra to have finished Algebra I and enter 9th grade Geometry. Can I use the supplementary instruction allowance to pay for algebra tutoring during the school year so that my child finishes the Algebra I coursework?

A: Yes, DSSR 276.9a allows for instruction in academic subjects generally offered by U.S. public schools. If neither your son's school nor the base school at post offer math classes as they are offered in the United States, the supplementary instruction allowance may be used for additional math instruction so that a child may receive an adequate education at post.

12. Q: The Department of State convinced us to take an assignment in a Francophone country. There are no adequate English-language schools at post. We don't want to send our children away to boarding school, but they have no knowledge of the French language. Can we use the allowance so that they can learn French?

A: Yes, foreign language instruction is an allowable supplementary instruction expense if competency in the language is necessary for the child to attend the school at post or progress in the curriculum. (See DSSR 276.9b.)

13. Q: Throughout our careers, my spouse or domestic partner and I have been assigned to countries where French is widely spoken, and our daughter, a 5th grader, would benefit greatly by attending a French-language school. There is an adequate English-language school at post, but we would like our daughter to go to the French school. Her French is not proficient enough for her to enter the 5th grade at this school. Can we use the supplementary instruction allowance so that she can enter school at the proper grade?

A: DSSR 276.9 f. permits reimbursement for supplementary instruction when the child does not attend the base school, with the following limitation:  The total educational grant and the supplementary instruction reimbursement amounts cannot exceed the maximum "school at post" education allowance listed in DSSR Section 920 for the post.

14. Q: My family left post three months ago on authorized departure ("evacuation"). While we were in the United States , my son attended a public high school that did not offer all of the courses that his high school at post offers. When we returned, the school told us that he would require additional class time in order to complete the school year. My son does not attend the base school. Can I use the supplementary instruction allowance for his additional instruction?

A: Yes. If your son's school administrators have determined that he requires additional instruction to successfully complete the school year, supplementary instruction may be authorized, even if he is not attending the base school. Note that this exception only applies in cases where the child is returning from an ordered or authorized departure ("evacuation"). (See DSSR 276.9d.)

15. Q: My daughter was part of the Gifted and Talented (GT) program at her school in the United States. When we arrived at post, we found out that no such program existed at the base school at post. Can we use supplementary instruction funds to provide GT program instruction? What if the base school does provide GT program instruction, but my daughter's school doesn't?

A: Yes and Perhaps. You can use supplementary instruction funds for GT instruction if the base school does not offer GT instruction provided that you meet the following conditions (See DSSR 276.9e):

(1) The program must be a GT program in an academic subject. Academic subjects include math, science, English, foreign languages, and social studies. Physical education and the arts are not included.

(2) The parent provides documentation that the child is eligible for a Gifted and Talented (GT) or equivalent program.

If the base school at post provides GT education, but your daughter's school does not, you may be reimbursed for supplementary instruction IF the total educational grant and the supplementary instruction amounts do not exceed the maximum "school at post" allowance and you meet the conditions outlined above.

16. Q: How do I provide documentation that my child belongs in a Gifted and Talented (GT) or equivalent program?

A: You must provide one of the following (See DSSR 276.9e):

(1) a letter from the child's previous school stating that the child qualified for and participated in such a program;

(2) a letter from the child's current school stating that the child is qualified for a GT program which the school cannot provide; or

(3) the child has taken a standardized GT test and the results show the child is eligible to participate in such a program. Costs associated with taking the GT test are the responsibility of the employee. The Office of Overseas Schools (A/OPR/OS) within the Department of State can provide more information about qualifying for Gifted and Talented Programs, including testing alternatives if the employee decides to have testing done.

17. Q: I want my Gifted and Talented child to appreciate the arts. Can I use the supplementary instruction allowance to pay for musical appreciation classes?

A: No. The program must be a GT or equivalent program in an academic subject, as academic subjects are generally the focus of GT programs in U.S public schools. Academic subjects include math, science, foreign languages, and social studies. Physical education and the arts are not included.

18. Q: My child is already busy enough during the school year. Can I use the supplementary instruction allowance to pay for his U.S government course during the summer provided that the course meets all of the requirements?

A: Normally, the supplementary instruction allowance may only be used at a foreign post to supplement the education received at the school at post during the regular school year.  However, under limited circumstances, and with permission by the Director of the Office of Allowances, Department of State, the allowance may be used during the summer months. The employee must provide information on why the child could not use the supplementary instruction during the regular school year. Please direct requests for authorization to the Director of the Office of Allowances at AllowancesO@state.gov.