Claim for Education Expenses

B-198171: Jul 2, 1980

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An Army employee appealed the disallowance of his claim for reimbursement of fees and tuition incurred while his daughter resided with him at an overseas duty station. Because the nearest dependents school was 100 miles away, the claimant enrolled the child in a private school, the only English speaking school available in that area. Pursuant to a September 29, 1977, request from the claimant, the Department of Defense (DOD) contracted to pay the tuition and fees for the period November 30, 1977, through June 15, 1978. The employee claimed expenses prior to the effective date of the DOD contract: February 14, 1977, to June 15, 1977, and August 29, 1977, through November 29, 1977. Initially the claim was disallowed on the basis that there is no authority for a parent to obligate the Government to pay tuition through a personal agreement or arrangement with a private school. The appropriation available for DOD personnel stationed in foreign countries are for expenditure under legislation which states that arrangements for any additional school facilities needed for dependents of personnel stationed overseas are to be made after an appropriate administrative determination has been made of the need thereof. A previous decision held that a parent has no authority by private agreement to obligate the Government to pay his child's tuition notwithstanding subsequent administrative approval of the private transaction. Army regulations provide that no payment will be made to service members in localities without adequate schools who personally incur tuition charges for their dependents in private schools. Thus, there is no authority for the Government to reimburse the claimant for the cost of the schooling his daughter received as the result of his personal arrangement with the school in view of the law's requirement that such arrangements be made by the appropriate officials. Accordingly, the disallowance of the claim was sustained.