Department of Defense Education Activity

Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Impact on Tuition Payments for Eligible Dependents of the NDSP

Access your sponsor portal and upload the repayment agreement which can be found at: https://webapps.dodea.edu/NDSP/WW/ndsp/parent/login.cfm Send a copy of the school’s invoice to the NDSP regional invoices mailbox.

No, the provision for homeschooling will only be available once the dependent arrives at the duty station. If the dependent arrives at the duty station before the end of the school year, then reimbursements for eligible homeschooling expenses will be honored.

Unfortunately, since the Non DoD Schools Program only has the legal authority to pay for private schooling when the dependent is in an overseas location that is not within the commuting distance of a DoDEA-operated school, this provision could only be extended to continue the educational programing for those students who were required to leave the foreign location (and unable to travel back) to an authorized/ordered departure. This provision does not extend to families who have delayed PCS due to COVID-19.

Yes, you should apply to obtain your formal eligibility letter as soon as the sponsor has PCS orders. Access the online portal at: https://registration.dodea.edu/NDSP/

We always recommend extreme caution with regard to making out-of-pocket expenditures. However, as long as the dependent and sponsor arrive to the Duty Station by the end of the school year, eligible expenses can be reimbursed. However, if the sponsor is re-directed or the PCS orders are otherwise changed, the NDSP cannot reimburse out-of-pocket expenditures.

When the PCS orders have been received and the NDSP validates that the dependent is at the Duty Station, eligibility will be promptly reinstated.

Eligibility/Registration

No, you must be in country before NDSP can fund any school fees. If you have to pay an application fee or any other start-up fees prior to arriving at your new location, save your receipts. NDSP can refund you those costs once you arrive in location.

No, you are not required to select a school. If you are not sure which school option is best for your child, it is best to leave this field blank. After eligibility is established, you may email NDSP.Management@hq.dodea.edu once you have selected a school. A new Registration Notification email will be sent to you.

No, NDSP pays for school tuition and other associated fees for students in kindergarten through 12th grade unless the student receives special education services. Your child can attend preschool in location but NDSP will not be able to fund it.

The Non DoD Schools Program (NDSP) provides academic support and funding for the education of authorized command sponsored dependents of the U.S. Department of Defense military members and civilian employees assigned to overseas areas where no U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity School (DoDEA) is available. The program currently serves approximately 3800 students in 131 countries.

Educational Options

(At Post) Allowable/Non-Allowable

Yes, you have to option of choosing a local public or private school that provides the curriculum in another language. However, there are a number of factors to consider before doing this. Review the Non-English School Guidance document for further information. You may also be eligible for Supplemental Support instruction in that foreign language. Contact your NDSP Education Specialist for further information.

Study trips/field trips or athletic trips are not an allowable expense whether they are voluntary or mandatory.

Uniforms are not an allowable expense with NDSP. These costs are the responsibility of the sponsor.

No, NDSP cannot purchase a musical instrument for your child. However, NDSP can fund rental of a musical instrument for your child if the school does not provide the instrument.

(Away from Post) Allowable/Non-Allowable

No, the student must attend the boarding school as a boarder and the boarding school must be outside the commuting distance of the duty location.

No, when there is a school available at post or within commuting distance, boarding is not an option.

When a boarding school is chosen as your child’s education option, supplemental funding, which includes online vendors for additional coursework, is not an allowable expense.

Weekly boarding is an option for students in grades 6-12. NDSP may fund the cost of transportation home and back to boarding school each week up to the limits of the DSSR away from post allowance for your duty location.

(Home Study) Allowable/Non-Allowable

All home study purchases made for the 2021-22 school year will be reimbursed according to the updated guidance.

20 United States Code (USC) 926(b) provides the basis for the DoDEA to support school-aged dependents in overseas locations where there are no DoD-operated schools. This same provision requires the NDSP to align with the Department of State Standardized Regulation (section 270) to the maximum extent practicable. As a result, and only for dependents eligible for the NDSP, is there a home study education allowance. While DoD-connected dependents can homeschool in locations where the DoDEA operates schools, they are not afforded an education allowance to do so.

The education allowance is intended to assist employees to meet the extraordinary and necessary expenses incurred by reason of service in a foreign area, not otherwise compensated for, in providing an adequate elementary or secondary education for their dependent children. Reimbursement is limited to costs for educational services normally provided free of charge in U.S. public schools and for the purpose of the newly established guidance, the reimbursement is based upon that which is at no cost to a public school student in the District of Columbia or one of the adjacent counties in Maryland or Virginia (referred to as the DMV).

While the law does not specifically discuss home study/private instruction/virtual schooling, it is in the best interest of the United States Government (USG) to ensure students enrolled in a home study course, private instruction or virtual schooling in a foreign area are able to reintegrate into a public education system when they return to the United States.

The annual maximums, which are for grades K-6 and grades 7-12, respectively, are currently in alignment with the Department of State’s posted allowance and for home study it is $10,500 and $21,500. 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/private instruction/virtual schooling.

Note: A separate education allowance for children with special needs qualifying under PL-105-17, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), is available ages 3-21. The maximum education allowance rate for home study/private instruction/virtual schooling of children with special needs is shown at DSSR 274.12c.

The education allowance can only be used to reimburse items authorized by the statute. Additionally, the Education Allowance is not currently subject to Federal Income Tax and for that reason is a reimbursement for necessary expenses.

Congress requires an accounting of all allowances from agencies approximately every five years. If an employee were given an amount of money without documentation this could move their allowance to taxable income. It is not so simple as to just advance this allowance. Regulations for government funding which result in personal property require a burden of proof given that the U.S. taxpayer is ultimately paying for items that will result in the sponsor’s personal property.

No. Reimbursement may not be received prior to the sponsor and dependent’s arrival at a foreign post. After the dependent is authorized and has arrived at the foreign post of assignment, Home Study Reimbursement Worksheet may be filed to receive reimbursement of allowable expenses.

The policy refers to age/grade appropriateness as it relates to academic programs and/or materials. Most vendors provide an age recommendation and while we recognize that these are not concrete. The NDSP generally would consider within a 3-year age/grade range to be appropriate. If the parent deems an item appropriate that is outside of this range, then the education plan can be used to justify.

To align with the requirement in USC Title 20, 926(b) which requires the NDSP to follow the Department of State to the maximum extent practicable, the revised policy includes this language. It should be noted that the requirement is in comparison to the curricular standards in the DMV, not the homeschool requirements/laws.

In addition, this provision supports parents by providing curricular standards that are rigorous and will support the transition back to the U.S. While we respect that families have the autonomy to choose the academic program that is appropriate for their child, it allows a fair/consistent approach to determine what is an adequate education program. It is the USG responsibility to ensure continuity of education for dependents especially as they plan for post-secondary endeavors.

As long as the state’s curricular standards are similar to or equivalent to guidelines and standards in the District of Columbia or one of the adjacent counties in Maryland or Virginia (referred to as the DMV), then this would be allowable. It is recommended that you review the grade level standards for the DMV and ensure that your selected state’s standards align with the DMV. The education plan allows for justification for the use of a different set of state’s curricular standards. A specific example of when a different state would be appropriate is if you are PCS’ing to that state after the OCONUS tour and you want to ensure that your high school student is on track for graduation in that state.

The intent of required documentation is two-fold. (1) Fiduciary Requirement: Homeschooling in the United States and DoDEA-operated school locations is a personal choice; however, the main burden of expense is on the parent. Whereas, in a NDSP location there is an education allowance available. As with any federal government funding, it is a minimum requirement to demonstrate evidence of appropriate and necessary use of funds. For this reason, the NDSP requires the Reimbursement Tool and requisite receipts.

(2) Educational/Academic Requirement: It is typically a requirement in the U. S. for homeschooling families to provide evidence of an adequate education that is commensurate with local standards. For this reason, the NDSP requires the Education Plan.

The process has been streamlined and a new tool created. The process is as follows:

  • Carefully review the Allowable and Non-Allowable Expenses prior to completing your claim.
  • File as needed but not more often than once a month after services have been provided.
  • File an individual claim for each child since each has their own education allowance.
  • All invoices and receipts must be in English. Translations may obtain through Military One Source.
  • Required documents for reimbursement: Claim, Invoice, Receipt/Proof of Payment.

 

The NDSP request 30 business days to process payments.

The reimbursement worksheet should be submitted no later than the end of the fiscal year (September 30) for schooling completed within the past 12-month period.

The education plan has always been an annual requirement for Home Study families. The change is in the content of the plan. The plan can be found on the NDSP website. The new requirements include:

  • A description of the curriculum and requisite materials for each course.
  • Self-certification that the parent will monitor progress; ability to assess End-of-Year Outcomes; and that the child is on target for high school graduation (grades 9-12).
  • Self-certification that the child is in a recognized and accredited virtual schooling program (if applicable).

A parent has the autonomy to develop a program appropriate for their child which could include blending various programs and/or online courses. However, a purchase may not be duplicative, and it is the responsibility of the parent to ensure that the home study program meets the curricular standards in the DMV. The education plan is used to articulate the academic program selected by the parent. It should also be noted that the education allowance may not cover the costs of all materials and as such, it is the responsibility of the parent to ensure that all materials are specifically aligned to the course of study and necessary.

The NDSP website contains the full list of allowable expenses. Most of the allowable/non allowables are consistent with the prior guidance. Below are the noted changes:

  • Materials/activities must be available to the student at no cost in public schools within the DMV.
  • Purchases must be specifically aligned to a specific course and required for completion of the curriculum.
  • Specialty materials and collectibles are disallowed.
  • Materials may not have a broader than educational use.

All purchases made for the SY 2021-22 will be reimbursed according to the new Home Study guidance.

A private instructor is allowable under specific conditions and must be requested by the parent for an education specialist to authorize. The criteria includes: (1) the rationale for the instructor which must be need based (such as when the parent cannot provide the instruction due to the complexity of the content-i.e. chemistry, Calculus, advanced Foreign Language) .(2) the program must be recognized and accredited program of study in a setting other than a school and in a nonsynchronous mode of delivery in a core course. The list of programs can be found on the Non DoD Schools Program website. (3) The instructor does not have to be certified, but must be able to adequately teach the course of study and not be otherwise employed by the parent for any other purpose, including childcare. (4) The parent request should indicate the specific course for the private instructor to teach the content and the recommended amount of time. The education specialist will validate the request and ensure that it is commensurate with the amount of time provided to students in public schools within the DMV for the same grade level and course.

Yes. This is consistent with the former policy. Electronic devices and other rentals such as: computer, laptop, and/or other electronic devices; and band instruments not resulting in ownership, which would normally be provided in the DMV.

Group classes/online classes are allowable if they meet the following criteria: (1) commensurate with the time allocations for a child in the U.S. (not to exceed 2 hours per week for K-6; 4 hours per week for 7-12) and (2) are generally available to public school students in the DMV at no charge.

It is typically the expense of the parent for their child to participate in competitive sports teams in the community in the United States and this is not an allowable expense. Whereas, if there is an At Post school which allows the student to participate on a team, but there is a cost not normally assessed to enrolled students at said school, then that cost may be reimbursed.

A group may be defined as at least two persons. Siblings can establish a group.

Specific materials such as books or mathematics manipulatives required to teach a specific course of study. Courses of study, such as STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) may have required materials, but please ensure that the items purchased are specifically aligned to the course of study/curriculum and are not broader use.

An item must be specifically tied to the core curriculum/course of study otherwise they are considered to have broader use. Before ordering, the sponsor/parent should ask him/herself (1) is the item necessary to teach the course/program of study? (2) would this normally be provided free of charge to a student in the majority of DMV public schools? (3) would this item be given to the student at a DMV public school to be taken home at the end of the course, resulting in ownership? Several factors are considered in whether a homeschooling expenditure can be reimbursed. A processor will first look to the language in the regulation to determine if an expense is allowable or prohibited from reimbursement. In general, items that have a broader use beyond a specific academic purpose or are not given to a student free of charge in a DMV public school are not allowed for reimbursement. A processor may also deny an expense reimbursement if it is not relevant to the curriculum or courses being studied but will seek guidance from the NDSP education team as education experts for clarification.

Supplemental materials are reimbursable expenses when clearly tied to the course requirements (example: British Literature, Shakespeare’s Plays) and can clearly demonstrate that they are necessary and intended for the specific course of study. Whereas games, such as Connect Four, are not specifically tied to a course of study and could have broader use even though they may have an educational purpose.

This is a continuation of what has always been in policy. Items typically purchased by parents in most public schools include supplies such as binders, composition books, notebooks, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, paint sets, paper, rulers, facial tissue, hand sanitizer and scientific calculator.

When claiming expenses, you should first review allowable and non-allowable expenses. Your Home Study Education Allowance Reimbursement Worksheet and Education Plan should note which core curriculum course(s) pertain to the items on your list of claimed expenses. The templates will be available in July on the NDSP website. If you still are not sure, please reach out to our team to inquire before making the purchase.

If a sponsor/parent feels that an item has been inappropriately rejected, then the sponsor/parent should resubmit the completed claim and/or how the claimed expense relates to a course or courses being studied. If it is not reconciled with the resource management processor and/or the sponsor believes that the claim requires an official appeal, then an Exception to Policy may be filed for an official review. Exceptions to Policy process can be found on the NDSP website.

Transportation

Yes, the priority of options that must be followed are: 1) School Transportation or Embassy or US Government Transportation 2) Commercial or Privately Owned Vehicle (P.O.V.).

If the school provides a bus, you cannot be reimbursed for mileage. Your children can either take the bus or you can transport yourself at your own expense, but NDSP cannot reimburse for mileage when a bus is offered.

Sponsor Portal

The Sponsor Portal is used for viewing the sponsor information (name, country, email address rank and End of Overseas Tour), viewing dependent information, completing the annual reregistration requirement, submitting documents (Extension Orders, PCS Orders, Invoices, Fee Schedules, School Calendars, Home Study Education Plans, Invoices, Family Budget Planning Tool, etc.)

After you have received the initial NDSP Registration Notification email confirming NDSP eligibility, you may then access the Sponsor Portal. You must use the email address that NDSP has on file.

Re-registration

There are steps to take. Access your Sponsor Portal and follow the instructions for informing the NDSP that you are departing. Also follow the school’s procedures for withdrawing your child so that you are not assessed a withdrawal penalty. If you are leaving before the end of the school year, contact the school to request a refund if the full school year tuition has been paid.

No, these are two processes. You must re-register your child in the NDSP in addition to following the school’s procedures for re-registering.

Yes, you must re-register your child in the NDSP Sponsor Portal every school year. Re-registering your child allows the NDSP to fund their tuition for the next school year.

Change of School/School withdrawal

Yes, you are responsible for requesting a refund. Any refund will be applied to your child’s new tuition.

Payments

The Non DoD Schools Program is a reimbursable program, but for tuition and school-provided transportation, the Program works with you and the school to establish direct payment. This means that you will not be required to pay allowable expenses out of pocket.

All necessary documents can be found on the Service Provider Payment page.  The sponsor can pay the service provider and then seek reimbursement from NDSP OR the service provider can set up direct billing with NDSP. If direct billing is set up, you must contact the NDSP Administration to coordinate banking information.  

The education allowance is intended to assist but not necessarily fully cover the education expenses encountered in an overseas location. This allowance is intended to cover costs of educational services normally free of charge in U.S. public schools. When the school of choice is more expensive than the maximum allowance established for the duty location, considerable out-of-pocket expenses may occur. Review Allowable and Non-Allowable Expenses.

While a dependent’s eligibility can be determined in advance, they are not eligible for the program until the DoDEA school closes. Thus, payment for tuition and/or other reimbursements cannot occur until after the DoDEA school has closed. It is advised that the sponsor request that the school delay payments or include in the first tuition invoice. However, we cannot force a school to alter their processes.

This is a continuation of what has always been in policy. Items typically purchased by parents in most public schools include supplies such as binders, composition books, notebooks, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, paint sets, paper, rulers, facial tissue, hand sanitizer and scientific calculator.

If a sponsor/parent feels that an item has been inappropriately rejected, then the sponsor/parent should resubmit the completed claim and/or how the claimed expense relates to a course or courses being studied. If it is not reconciled with the resource management processor and/or the sponsor believes that the claim requires an official appeal, then an Exception to Policy may be filed for an official review. Exceptions to Policy process can be found on the NDSP website.

The maximum amount allowed is established by the Department of State and known as the education allowance. The education allowance for Seoul as of November 2018 is K-5 $28250 | 6 -8 $30400 | 9-12 $34700. If the school that you choose charges above this amount for tuition and transportation, then the excess is the sponsor’s responsibility. If the school includes meals, overnight field trips, sport fees, extracurricular fees, or other non-allowable expenses. More info...

NDSP will pay for the required fees associated with an AP or IB. Transportation costs to a testing site are not an allowable expense.

The ACT and SAT are college admission examinations and are not an authorized expense. 

Academic Support

The NDSP Education Specialist can help you access Supplemental Support funding for your child to take a course (typically online) to earn this credit. Any U.S.-specific course, e.g., U.S. History, U.S. Government, American literature, can be funded using Supplemental Support money.

If your child was eligible in the prior U.S. public school and the current school does not provide a gifted program, you may be eligible for additional materials/courses. All gifted education services require pre-approval by the NDSP Area Educational Specialist.

Contact the NDSP Education Specialist for your region to discuss ways to support your child. Some informal interventions could be put in place, and this might be enough to help your child catch up. Or the situation might warrant a referral for testing to look at more formal supports and services. The Education Specialist can provide guidance.

NDSP may provide funding for direct academic support to students who are failing or who are at risk of failing as demonstrated by report card, progress report, or scores on a standardized or school-wide assessment. Academic support typically equals one hour per week per subject. This support must be pre-authorized by the Education Specialist to be eligible for reimbursement.  

Transition

If the school curriculum is considerably different from a U.S. curriculum, try to keep a record of all grade reports, progress reports, course titles and amount of seat hours. This information will help the receiving school determine credits.

Contact your NDSP Education Specialist to discuss your options. As your child starts the new program, he/she may be eligible for some transition funding assistance to support the change in curriculum. Your Education Specialist can help.

If the student is in a school at post, then there is a possibility that the student can complete the school year in location. Contact NDSP Management to request consideration for your student to remain and for NDSP will fund it. Provide documentation from your command/agency that the student and adult staying behind are both authorized to remain in the country.