Funded: State Policy Analysis

A Detailed Look at Each State's Funding Policies

Below, see summaries of the state’s education funding policy in each issue area. Click the Expand icon next to any summary to see more detail, if available, about that state’s policy regarding that issue area. Click the Citation icon
next to any summary to see the sources of the information regarding that issue area.
North Dakota
Funding Basics
Formula Type

North Dakota has a primarily student-based funding formula. It assigns a cost to the education of a student with no special needs or services, called a base amount. It then accounts for the additional cost of educating specific categories of students both through program-specific allocations and by applying multipliers to the base amount to generate supplemental funding for certain students.

The categories of students generating supplemental funding in North Dakota are low-income students, English language learners, and students in sparsely populated districts.  Services for students with disabilities, students identified as gifted, and students enrolled in career and technical education programs are funded through program-specific allocations.


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N.D. Cent. Code § 15.1-27-03.1

Base Amount

North Dakota has a fixed base funding amount per student. For FY2016, the per-student base amount was $9,365.

This means that an average student with no special needs or disadvantages would be funded at that level.

Amounts are set on a biennial basis, and the amount was set at $9,646 for FY2017, the second year of the biennium.


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Expected Local Share

North Dakota expects school districts to contribute revenue to the funding of public schools. The amount each district is expected to raise for its education costs is based primarily on its property values: each district is expected to contribute $60.00 for every thousand dollars of property wealth for the purpose of funding its schools.

The state also expects districts to contribute revenue received from a number of other sources, including mobile home taxes, telecommunications taxes, and taxes on the distribution and transmission of electric power. However, school districts in North Dakota that choose to do so may raise less or more money locally than the expected amount, though taxes above a certain rate are subject to voter approval.

Once the state calculates the total amount of funding necessary to educate students within a district, it subtracts the expected local contribution. The difference becomes the baseline amount upon which the state education aid calculation is based. However, the final determination of state aid makes adjustments for very districts with very low property values; for districts whose property values have increased significantly from the prior year; for districts with very high end-of-year fund balances; and for changes to the district’s calculated aid amount since FY2013.


N.D. Cent. Code § 15.1-27-04.1 through 15.1-27-04.2, 15.1-27-20.2, and 15.1-27-22
Personal communication from Jerry Coleman, Director of School Finance, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, on 5/24/16

Student Characteristics
Grade Level

North Dakota does not differentiate most kinds of education funding based on students’ grade levels.  However, the state provides additional funding for small school districts on two sliding scales, one for elementary (K-8) districts and one for districts including all grades (referred to in the state as “high school districts”).

After first adjusting the base per-pupil amount for certain student characteristics, North Dakota applies a further multiplier to the state funding allocation to increase funding for small school districts, defined as elementary districts with fewer than 200 students and high school districts with fewer than 900 students.  The multiplier is determined based on a sliding scale, which ranges from 1.17 to 1.25 for elementary districts and 1.01 to 1.36 for high school districts, with the precise multiplier for each district chosen based on student enrollment.


Source 1
ND Century Code 15.1-27-03.2

English-Language Learner

North Dakota provides additional resources for English language learners. It does so by applying a multiplier to the base per-pupil amount for these students. The multiplier used varies depending on the student’s level of English proficiency.  

Only students enrolled in English language learner programs are eligible for supplemental funding. Currently, for the least English-proficient students, a multiplier of 1.33 is applied to the base amount; for students in the second-least proficient category, a multiplier of 1.22 is applied; and for students in the third-least proficient category, a multiplier of 1.07 is applied, though students in this category may not receive supplemental funding for more than three years.

In 2017, these multipliers will change to 1.4, 1.28, and 1.07, respectively.

N.D. Cent. Code § 15.1-27-03
Student Poverty

North Dakota  provides increased funding for students from low-income households. It does so by applying a multiplier of 1.025 to the base per-pupil amount for these students.

The number of students eligible for the supplemental funding is determined by taking the average percentage of students in grades 3-8 who have qualified for free or reduced-priced lunch (FRL) under the National School Lunch Program over the previous three years and applying that percentage to the total number of students in the district.  

ND Century Code 15.1-27-03.1
Special Education

North Dakota funds special education using a census-based system, assuming that a set percentage of students in each district will require special education services and using each district’s full enrollment count to determine the amount of special education funding required.

The state provides this funding by multiplying districts’ actual enrollment by 1.082, and then providing the state’s regular per-student funding on the basis of each district’s inflated count rather than its true student population. In order to receive this supplemental funding, districts must file a plan with the state indicating what special needs services will be provided. The state also provides funding for individual students whose costs exceed four times the state average education cost per student, and for districts spending more than 2% of their annual budgets on the provision of special education to any one student.

Additionally, school districts can be reimbursed for 80% of room and board costs for a student with disabilities who is placed in a residential facility.


ND Ann. Sta. § 15-1-27, § 15-1-32, and § 15-1-33


North Dakota provides additional resources for gifted and talented students. It does so by reimbursing eligible districts and special education units for the cost of their gifted and talented programs.

In order to receive reimbursement, districts must submit an application that describes their program and provides assurances that they have credentialed staff for gifted and talented programs. State aid for this purpose totals approximately $400,000.


Source 1
Personal communication from Jerry Coleman, Director of School Finance, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, on 5/24

Career and Technical Education

North Dakota provides specific funding for career and technical education (CTE) by appropriating funds for a Department of Career and Technical Education at the state level, which is separate from the Department of Public Instruction. In the 2015-2017 biennium, the state appropriated a budget of $43.6 million for this department.

This funding covers partial reimbursements to districts and Area Career and Technology Centers for CTE instructional salaries, contracts, travel, and other approved costs; support funding for new and expanded program offerings; and workforce training grants.


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Community Characteristics
District Poverty

North Dakota does not provide increased funding based on the concentration of students from low-income households in a particular district.

Sparsity and/or Small Size

North Dakota provides additional funding for sparse school districts, which it does by applying a multiplier of 1.1 to base per-pupil amount for students in these districts, and for small districts, which it does by applying a multiplier to the base per-pupil amount that can range from 1.0 to 1.36, depending on the district’s total student enrollment.

School districts eligible for supplemental sparsity funding are those with fewer than 100 students and an area greater than 275 square miles. (Districts with fewer than fifty students receive additional funding.) School districts eligible for small district funding are K-12 districts with fewer than 900 students and K-8 districts with fewer than 200 students.

The multiplier applied for students in small school districts varies based on district type and size. For K-12 districts, a multiplier of 1.36 is applied to the base amount for each student in school districts with enrollment less than 110, and the multiplier decreases by .01 for each statutorily determined enrollment grouping. For K-8 districts, a multiplier of 1.25 is applied to the base amount for each student in districts with enrollment less than 125, and a multiplier of 1.17 is applied for each student in districts with enrollment between 125 and 200.


N.D. Cent. Code § 15.1-27-03.1 and 15.1-27-03.2
Source 2