An Overview of the Foundation Formula

The Foundation Formula is a crucial component of Alaska’s education funding system, and understanding it is essential for educators, policymakers, and communities. The formula was developed by the Alaska Legislature in an effort to address the challenges of public education funding disparities, and attempts to account for differing size schools in diverse locations, district cost factors, and the needs of enrolled members.


Alaska’s Foundation Formula was initially designed to determine how many members (students) were enrolled in an educational unit (school), and the cost of educating those members. The original formula did not consider individual member categories or the varying costs of operating schools in different regions of the state. It grouped school districts into “funding communities” resulting in unfair under funding for many districts.

To address these issues, a task force was convened in 1996-1997 which led to the passage of SB 36 in 1998. This legislation introduced a funding formula that considers the diverse variables among school districts based on their size, location, and the needs of their enrolled members. The current Foundation Formula is outlined in AS 14.17, State Aid to Public Schools.


AASB has produced the following resources to provide a better understanding of the Foundation Formula and its functioning:

  • 10 minute video, An Overview of the Foundation Formula (below) breaks down the funding formula into easily understandable terms, highlighting key elements and mechanisms.
  • 1-page Foundation Formula summary sheet provides a quick reference guide for those seeking a concise overview.
  • More information is available at the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development’s Foundation Funding Formula page.
  • For more advocacy resources visit AASB’s Legislative Advocacy page.