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ARLINGTON, Va., June 18 – The Association of the United States Army is calling upon Congress "to fully fund all sections of the Impact Aid Program" and federal agencies to clarify how they will measure a soldier's Basic Allowance for Housing.
The recently released Torchbearer Alert notes that the Fiscal Year 2003 appropriation for impact aid of $1.18 billion was only 60 percent of need as defined in law.
Impact aid is a federal program under the Department of Education that provides funds for part of the educational costs of federally connected children. Children of military families are one of those categories.
In addition, there is a Department of Defense supplement to impact aid for school districts having a large number of children from military families. In FY 2003, the supplement was $35 million or 70 percent of need.
The request for impact aid in FY 2004 is down by almost $173 million, and the request for the supplement remains unchanged.
The Association’s Torchbearer Alert reports that about 80 percent of military children attend local public schools that depend on impact aid to buy textbooks and computers, and pay utility bills and staff.
The money from the supplement often goes to security and improved facilities.
"Impact aid is the only education program not forward-funded – any delays in funding decisions and/or continuing resolutions affect the current school year's fund," the Alert reports.
On clarifying how the housing allowance is viewed, the Alert reports that with the increasing privatization of military housing that terming this money as income has a direct impact on school lunch programs, supplemental security income, Head Start and child care costs.
The Social Security Administration has ruled that the allowance should be viewed as "in-kind support and maintenance, not as cash unearned income."
The Alert calls upon Congress to fully fund impact and "protect the benefits provided to soldiers and their families prior to privatization of military housing and avoid ‘unintended consequences.'"
For more information on these topics, click on Legislative Action Center on the AUSA homepage – www.ausa.org