July 10, 2015
Subject: Deadline Extended for New Instructional
Facility Allotment (NIFA); Online
Application for Funding
In order to
allow more districts and charter schools the opportunity to take advantage of
this funding opportunity, the Commissioner of Education has given approval to
waive the deadline specified in 19 Texas Administrative Code §61.034. The deadline for submitting a NIFA application
for 2015-2016 will be August 17, 2015.
This letter is to inform you about the New Instructional Facility Allotment (NIFA),
available to public school districts and charter schools. It describes the
allotment, explains the eligibility criteria and application process, and
spells out the NIFA payments process.
The Texas Education Code
(TEC), §42.158, authorizes the NIFA program. The legislature did not provide
funding under this allotment for the 2011–2012 through 2014–2015 school years.
However, funding has been made available for the 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 school
years. In order to access funding under the NIFA program, your district must
submit an online application (Attachment Ishows the complete statutory reference for the NIFA, and Attachment II shows the commissioner’s rules for the NIFA). The following list
addresses some important facts and common misconceptions about the NIFA
The NIFA and the IFA (Instructional Facilities Allotment) are not the same, but are two different programs with different
eligibility requirements, application processes, and application deadlines.
The NIFA is
essentially a reimbursement program for start-up costs of new campuses. Initial (first-year) applications must
be submitted during the summer before
the expected opening of the new building. Follow-up
(second-year) applications must be submitted during the summer after the first
year of occupation. Because no funding was appropriated for NIFA in the
2014–2015 school year, no districts will be in follow-up or second-year status
in the 2015–2016 school year. Only campuses that are in the first year of
operation in the 2015–2016 school year will be eligible for funding this year.
NIFA funding is
based on the average daily attendance (ADA)
earned on a new campus. Since many new campuses open during the middle of a
year, funding for these campuses is prorated for the first year.
The NIFA is part
of the cost of Tier I of the Foundation School Program (FSP), but it is not
counted in the calculation of weighted average daily attendance (WADA) for Tier
II of the FSP. Districts not eligible for Tier I funding are eligible for the
Criteria: The NIFA is available
to all public school districts and charter schools that construct new
buildings. Districts that must take action under the TEC, Chapter 41, to reduce
wealth per student to the equalized wealth level and school districts that do
not otherwise qualify for state aid are
eligible to receive the NIFA. The following list provides the definitions and
eligibility criteria for the NIFA:
To be eligible for the NIFA:
The facility for
which funds are requested must be a newly constructed instructional site
(campus) used for teaching the curriculum required by the TEC, Chapter 28.
The new facility
must have its own campus ID number as designated by the Texas Education Agency.
The new facility
must have its own principal or be eligible to receive an accountability rating
through standard analysis as described in the most current Accountability
The new facility
must have its own assigned instructional staff and instructional program
distinct from those for other facilities.
The new facility
must have its own record of expenditures that is not a sub-set of another school budget and its own attendance data
that can be reported for those students assigned to its campus.
The new facility
must be physically separate from other existing school structures. However, a
covered walkway may connect the new facility to another building.
To qualify for initial (first-year) funding, the
campus must be occupied for the first time in the 2015–2016 school year.
Prohibitions and Restrictions:
The facility for
which funds are requested cannot be for a program for students enrolled in
another public school (summer school, evening school, etc.).
cannot be a renovated building. The building and the slab must be new from the
ground up. The only exception would
be for a campus with newly constructed instructional facilities and renovated
or retained noninstructional structures, such as a cafeteria or library.
cannot be an expansion of existing facilities.
cannot be a portable or temporary structure.
Amount: For an initial (first-year) application, a
school district is entitled to an allotment of $250 per ADA earned by students
in attendance on an eligible new campus. Funding is prorated for a facility
that opens after the beginning of the school year.
Proration: Funding for the NIFA
is limited by appropriation. If the total amount of allotments to which all
districts are entitled for a school year exceeds the amount appropriated, the
commissioner will reduce each district’s allotment so that the total amount to
be distributed equals the total amount available. Reductions to allotments are
made by applying the same number of cents of tax rate to each district’s
taxable value of property. For each district, the taxable value of property is
the property value certified by the Texas comptroller for the preceding school
year as determined under the Government Code, Subchapter M, Chapter 403, or, if
applicable, a reduced property value that reflects either a rapid decline
pursuant to the TEC, §42.2521, or a grade-level
adjustment pursuant to the TEC, §42.106.
Application Process: The NIFA application is available online.
Applications must be entered, saved, and sent through the online system.
Applications must be sent electronically
by August 17, 2015. Neither late
applications nor paper applications will be accepted. Pictures, site plans,
floor plans, demolition plans (if applicable), and legal documentation must be uploaded into the FSP System by August
Online FSP Payment System: The online FSP Payment System requires a Texas Education
Agency Secure Environment (TEASE) user ID and assigned password. The FSP system
will not process a NIFA application until the applicant agrees that certain
required conditions apply to the newly constructed site. Moreover, the system
assumes that the applicant is the superintendent or the superintendent’s
authorized designee, and is fully familiar with the pertinent facts. Please be
cautious about whom is granted online access, since the information provided in
the NIFA application is subject to audit.
On FSP Payment System access, the user should:
Select the NIFA link from the Programs options.
Change the year
Select the NIFA Application link from the menu on
Click the button
for the appropriate NIFA application type.
application, save it, and send it.
Selecting the appropriate application type:
An initial application applies to a
facility not occupied before the 2015–2016 school year and that has never
before received NIFA funds. An initial application includes a verification of
eligibility, a brief description and photograph of the newly built
instructional facility, and a copy of a legal document that clearly describes
the nature and dates of construction. The documentation may be a copy of a
contract, certification of project compliance, or certification of substantial
Preliminary Payments: A separate
NIFA payment will not be sent.
Rather, preliminary payments will be incorporated into allocations for the FSP
according to a district’s payment class. NIFA payments are reflected on the Summary of Finances reports. For a
district that is not subject to the requirements of the TEC, Chapter 41, and
does not receive payments from the Foundation School Fund, NIFA distributions
will correspond to the schedule for payment class 3. For a district that is
required to reduce wealth pursuant to the TEC, Chapter 41, any NIFA funds for
which the district is eligible are applied as credits to the amounts owed to
districts receiving the NIFA, a settle-up amount is determined by the
commissioner when final counts of ADA
as reported through the PEIMS are available for each campus. The amount of
funds to be distributed for the NIFA to a school district is in addition to any
other state aid entitlements.
If you have any questions related to the NIFA or the NIFA application, please
contact Cassie Huggins by phone at (512) 463-9232 or by email at
Commissioner School Finance/Chief School Finance Officer