Yes, it’s true; when you’re posted overseas the State Department is obligated to ensure your children receive the same level of education they would receive as if they were residing in the United States.
What does this mean? In many cases this means your children can attend some of the top international schools for free. In summary, the policy is:
- You must be serving overseas. (If you’re assigned to D.C. you’re on your own.)
- Each overseas post determines which local school (or schools) at post qualifies as meeting the basic requirements of emulating a quality of education comparable to what your children would receive in the U.S.
- Whatever this school charges for education per year is the amount the State Department will reimburse you for each school-aged child.
- There is no limit to the number of children the State Department will support. (Again, this is not to encourage you to have lots of children, and each child of course must be in your legal custody.)
Example: You’re assigned to Bangkok and you have a high school-aged child. If the “Overseas School of Bangkok” is a school approved by post and the school charges $5,000 a year in tuition, then the State Department will reimburse you up to this amount every year for your child, regardless of where your child is. This means you can send Bobby to boarding school in London if you want, but the State Department would only reimburse up to $5,000; anything more you would pay out of pocket, anything less and the Department only reimburses the lower amount and you don’t get the rest of the balance.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of twists and turns related to this benefit, all of which are covered in the official regulations titeld “Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR) 270 Education Allowances”, located here.