Grants to Independent Schools

Date came into force or revised

NA (Revised May 2020)



Policy statement

This policy outlines the general funding procedures for independent schools.  For information on special education funding for independent schools, please see the policy Special Education Programs and Funding.

Rationale or purpose of policy

To describe funding for independent schools, according to their classification under the Independent School Act (PDF).


Policy in full

Grants to Group 1 and 2 Schools

Only Group 1 and 2 independent schools are eligible to receive government grants. For information on the requirements for Group 1 and 2 schools, including the requirement to be operated by a non-profit authority, see the policy regarding the classification of independent school.

Grants include the following types:

  • Operating Grant
    This is the primary grant given to Group 1 and 2 independent schools. The grant is determined by the number of FTE equivalent and partially eligible students enrolled in the school. It is to be used solely for operational expenditures. Distributed Learning (DL) schools receive operating grants in accordance with their group classification and based on the provincial public school DL funding rate. DL schools may only operate with a signed agreement with the Minister.
  • Special Purpose Grant (Independent School Act, section 13 (PDF))
    From time to time the Minister of Education may issue Special Purpose Grants. When the grant is available to all school districts for operational expenditures, Group 1 and 2 independent schools will be included at their respective percentages.
  • Learning Improvement Fund
    The Learning Improvement Fund (LIF) was established to assist boards of education to address class composition challenges in the Province’s most vulnerable classrooms. Legislation establishing the LIF was part of government’s response to the Supreme Court decision concerning Bills 27 and 28. This grant is not available to independent schools.
  • Kindergarten Half-Day and/or Full-Day Funding
    Group 1 and 2 independent schools may claim funding, on the Ministry's Student Data Collection Form 1701 (PDF), at their respective percentages.
  • Special Education Grants
    Group 1 and 2 schools may apply for special education grants through the Ministry of Education and Child Care. These grants are a specific type of special purpose grant. They are issued to assist the school in meeting the expenses associated with adapting or modifying the educational programs of students who qualify for special education grants.
  • Homeschooling Grant (Independent School Act, section 10(3) (PDF))
    Group 1 and 2 independent schools receive a grant of $175 for each homeschooled child registered by September 30.
  • French Grant
    The federal government issues, through the British Columbia Ministry of Education and Child Care, limited funding for French second language instruction. By means of an agreement between the Ministry of Education and Child Care and the Federation of Independent School Associations (FISA), FISA distributes the French grants to schools.

Procedures related to policy

Calculation of Independent School Grants

The district operating grant refers to the per-student operating grant amount issued to the school district in which the independent school is located, it excludes the funding that districts receive for capital costs.

The district operating grant consists of the per-pupil base allocation plus supplementary amounts added to produce the per-student district operating grant amount. Supplementary amounts are included for unique student needs (including learning disabilities, learning assistance, speech and language services, mild intellectual disabilities, English Language Learning, aboriginal education, and adult education programs), enrolment decline (greater than one percent per year), salary differentials, transportation and housing, and unique geographic factors. The supplementary factors account for the difference in school district operating grant amounts.

The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) eligible students enrolled in an independent school is a key component to calculating school grants. A full grant is paid for each full-time student who is enrolled for a minimum of 600 hours from July 1 to May 15 of the school year. Partial grants are paid for eligible partial students who receive less than 600 hours of instruction.

 The designated percentages are as follows:

Group 1 = 50 percent of the local district's per-student grant amount
Group 2 = 35 percent of the local district's per-student grant amount

The group designation is determined by the comparison of the independent school's average per student operating costs with the local school district's average per student operating grant amount. If the independent school's per student operating costs exceeds the district's per student grant amount, then the school is designated Group 2.

Each independent school's grant is calculated by multiplying as follows:


To assist independent schools in their budgeting process for the next year, the Ministry of Education and Child Care generally informs independent schools in the Spring of the per-student estimated grant amount by school district for the next school year.

Payment and Use of Grants

  1. The operational grant is transferred electronically to the bank account of the independent school authority. Please see the Common Disbursement System (CDS) to access information and how to apply online. The following are the three instalment dates and amounts: September 30 - 30 percent  
  2. January 31 - 40 percent
  3. June 30 - 30 percent (final adjusted payment)
  • The September (30 percent) grant amount is based on the previous school year's (June) Eligible Student (ES) Audit numbers (unless there are reasonable grounds to believe the current school year's enrolment will not exceed 50 percent of the previous year). 
  • The January (40 percent) grant is based on the reported September 30 student enrolment numbers
  • The June (30 percent) payment is based on the May 15 Eligible Student (ES) Audit numbers

Homeschooling grant payments accompany the operational grant payments.

For new independent schools receiving operational grants for the first time, the first grant installment will be on January 31 (this will be 70 percent – September and January combined). An independent authority is not eligible for Group 1 funding for a given independent school unless it operated that school in the immediately previous school year.

The independent school grant can only be used to pay for operating expenses.

The grant to the independent school may not exceed the operating costs of the school.

Independent School Distributed Learning (DL) 

For school years 2012/13 to 2019/20, as set out in the Independent School Regulation (PDF), Group 1 DL independent schools are funded at 63 percent of the public school DL FTE rate. Group 2 schools are funded at 44.1 percent of the same public school DL FTE rate. DL operational grant payments for eligible students are paid once the student is reported and becomes actively engaged in the course.

Beginning in the 2020/21 school year the DL funding rates will change to: Group 1 independent DL schools will be funded at 50 percent of the public school DL FTE rate, while Group 2 independent DL schools will be funded at 35 percent of the public school DL FTE rate. 

Kindergarten to Grade 9 DL funding:

  • Paid 1 FTE based on September 30 count
  • Receive .5 FTE based on February 15 new student enrolment 
  • Receive .33 FTE based on May 15 new student enrolment

Grade 10 to 12 DL funding:

  • Grants per courses is at .125 of 63 percent or 44.1 percent of the public school DL rate. These rates will be updated to 50 percent and 35 percent as described above for the 2020 to 2021 school year
  • Paid per course based on September, January, and May new course enrolment

Special Education Grant Levels and Specific Categories for DL students are  a specific type of special purpose grant.

Withholding, Reduction or Cancellation of Grant

A school may refuse to accept grant payments at any time, or, if a school ceases to comply with the requirements of the Act, the grant payments may be withheld, reduced or discontinued by the Inspector. In such a case, the Inspector's decision may be appealed to the Minister of Education, whose decision is final.