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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for
Home Study/Private Instruction
 
 
1. Q: Why is an education allowance paid?

2. Q: What is an adequate education?

3. Q: How can an employee/parent ensure that his/her child obtains an adequate education?

4. Q: What is adequate home study/private instruction?

5. Q: If home study/private instruction is the selected educational method, how can the post ensure that an education allowance is being granted for an adequate education in accordance with the law and regulation?

6. Q: How much money am I allowed to spend for home study/private instruction?

7. Q: Can the education allowance be advanced for home study or private instruction?

8. Q: What are allowable expenses for reimbursement under Home Study or Private Instruction?

9. Q: What expenses are not reimbursed under Home Study or Private Instruction?

10. Q: I have enrolled my child in a home study course with a religious focus. Can I be reimbursed?

11. Q: As part of the music segment of my daughter's home study instruction, I'd like her to learn to play the flute. Will the Department pay for private lessons, since she cannot join a school band?

12. Q: My child is not following either the Calvert or University of Nebraska curricula, but rather I am putting together an individual program for my child with courses from many different sources. Can I still be reimbursed and if so, how?

13. Q: My child is attending an international school at my post but I'd still like to have her enroll in a home study course as well to supplement the course at the international school. May I be reimbursed for the home study materials?

1. Q: Why is an Education Allowance paid?

A: Title 5 United States Code (USC) 5924(4)(A) provides the basis for the education allowance. The intent of the law is embodied in the government wide Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR) Chapter 270. The education allowance is intended to assist employees meet the extraordinary and necessary expenses incurred by reason of service in a foreign area, not otherwise compensated for, in providing adequate elementary and secondary education for dependent children. Reimbursement is limited to costs for educational services provided by U.S. public schools. While the law does not discuss home study/private instruction, it is in the best interest of the USG to ensure students enrolled in a home study course or private instruction in a foreign area are able to reintegrate into a public education system when they return to the United States.

2. Q: What is an adequate education?

A: The major criterion of “adequacy” is whether a child of normal ability, upon completion of a grade, or its equivalent, can enter the next higher grade in a public school in the United States.

3. Q: How can an employee/parent ensure that his/her child obtains an adequate education?

A: The child should attend an adequate school at post; attend an adequate school away from post; or experience adequate home study/private instruction.

4. Q: What is adequate home study/private instruction?

A: This is a complete academic-year program approved by a competent authority using a correspondence course and/or other appropriate materials in the home, and/or using private instruction. Private instruction is instruction provided other than by the parent to a child not attending a school at post. Note: Parents are not compensated under the allowance for time they spend educating their children under either home study or private instruction (DSSR 277.3b). Per DSSR 040m(2), "Any child or children of a domestic partner of an employee shall be deemed a stepchild of the employee."

5. Q: If home study/private instruction is the selected educational method, how can the post ensure that an education allowance is being granted for an adequate education in accordance with the law and regulation?

If home study/private instruction is the selected educational method, the post must obtain one of the following from the employee/parent: (a) receipts for enrollment of the child in a recognized home study course (such as the Calvert School for grades K-8 or the University of Nebraska for grades 9-12); or (b) guidelines and verification that the employee/parent is participating in and complying with the home schooling requirements of a selected location. This location can be the employee/parent’s state of residence, another relevant state, territory, possession or country. Upon request, the Office of Overseas Schools within the U.S. Department of State can assist in determining if the course of study meets criteria established by school districts within the D.C. area.

6. Q: How much money am I allowed to spend for home study/private instruction?

A: Up to $10,600 per year may be reimbursed for allowable expenses for grades K-8 and up to $18,200 per year may be reimbursed for allowable expenses for grades 9-12. However, the maximum amount reimbursed for allowable expenses cannot exceed the “at post” education allowance listed in DSSR Section 920 when the school/grade at post is considered adequate and that maximum rate for school at post is less than the applicable maximum rate for home study.

Note: A separate education allowance for special needs children qualifying under PL-105-17, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), is available from birth to the 21st birthday. The maximum education allowance rate for home study/private instruction of special needs children, including tutoring, speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy is $71,500 plus $4,100 for supplementary instruction. An additional 50% of the education allowance (up to an additional $35,750) may be reimbursed at the post level for necessary, allowable expenses. Requests for reimbursement for allowable expenses above the additional 50% maximum must be submitted to the Director, Office of Allowances, U.S. Department of State.

7. Q: Can the education allowance be advanced for home study or private instruction?

A: Funds can only be advanced as necessary for the employee to meet periodic educational expenses or when a monetary advantage such as a discount would accrue to the government. Proof of payment for expenses must be within a reasonable time after funds are disbursed.

8. Q: What are allowable expenses for reimbursement under Home Study or Private Instruction?

A: (1) Traditional curriculum and other supplemental materials as may be appropriate (textbooks and other pertinent instructional materials) for math, science, language arts, social studies, and other subjects on a grade/age appropriate basis.

(2) Expendable supplies which are normally provided free of charge in U.S. public schools.

(3) Tutorial or independent study costs to ensure that a child receives age/grade-appropriate instruction. The head of agency or designee could reimburse the tutorial of, for example, a 17 year old “senior” taking calculus or physics.

(4) Fees charged for access to libraries, recreation facilities, schools for education-related curriculum activities, or participation on school athletic or extracurricular teams which are normally free of charge in U.S. public schools. For example, required research for projects, group physical education or group music activities, participation on school athletic team or debate team above what is charged students attending the school.

(5) Fees for curriculum-related on-line internet services such as study programs, library services and distance learning.

(6) Rental of curriculum-related equipment such as microscopes or very large band instruments (such as the Sousaphone) which would normally be provided by U.S. public schools.

(7) Required testing materials by either the formal home study course or other authorized program.

(8) Advisory teaching service affiliated with formal recognized home study course.

 
(9) Tuition charges, shipping costs, lesson postage, on-line internet and facsimile charges associated with formal recognized home study course or other authorized program.

9. Q: What expenses are not reimbursed under Home Study or Private Instruction?

A: (1) Purchase or rental of items which have broader use than the course being studied (such as computer hardware, band instruments except as noted above)

(2) Parental training in home study/private instruction

(3) Any form of compensation to the parent such as childcare or supervisory costs

(4) Travel and transportation costs at post or away from post

(5) Personal telephone, internet, satellite, cable or other available communication subscription fees

(6) Fees for museums, cultural events, or performances that would normally be paid by parents of children in the U.S.

10. Q: I have enrolled my child in a home study course with a religious focus. Can I be reimbursed?

A: Yes. You can be reimbursed for a home study course of your choice for allowable expenses (DSSR 277.3a), as long as the program has been approved by a competent authority (DSSR 277.3c(2)).

11. Q: As part of the music segment of my daughter’s home study instruction, I’d like her to learn to play the flute. Will my agency pay for private lessons, since she cannot join a school band?

A: Fees charged to participate in school group music activities may be reimbursed. However, reimbursement for private lessons is not allowed.

12. Q: My child is not following either the Calvert or University of Nebraska curricula, but rather I am putting together an individual program for my child with courses from many different sources. Can I still be reimbursed and if so, how?

A: When a child is not enrolled in a recognized program such as Calvert or Nebraska, the parent must establish that they are participating in and complying with the home study requirements in a selected location and provide those guidelines to the authorizing official at post (DSSR 277.3c(2)). That location could be the parents’ state of residence, another relevant state, territory, possession or country.

13. Q: My child is attending an international school at my post but I would still like to have her enroll in a home study course as well to supplement the course at the international school. May I be reimbursed for the home study materials?

A: No. This would be combining two educational methods, which is not permitted. The employee/parent has the freedom to choose the educational method. However, it must be only one of the following: (1) a “school at post”; (2) a “school away from post”; or (3) “home study/private instruction”.