ESSA Financial Transparency FAQ

**These FAQs should be used in conjunction with the ESSA Financial Transparency Guidance. This page will be updated on an ongoing basis.  If you have questions that are not answered on this page, please submit them to 

Other Resource Links
ESSA Technical Guidance -- ESSA Reporting Guidance -- ESSA Accounting Spreadsheet


These FAQs are organized into four categories:  
I. Report Requirement and Deadlines
II. Access to IDEx
III. Saving/Submitting/Editing
IV. Individual Entries


I. Report Requirement and Deadlines

Q: Does my school district have to submit this report?

A: Yes. Under the federal law, all local educational agencies (in New York State, this means all school districts and charter schools) must submit transparency reports using actual expenditures, beginning with the 2018-19 school year.  There are no waivers for this requirement.

Q: When is the report due?

A: School districts, with the exception of Dependent districts, must submit 2020-21 expenditure data by December 31, 2021. Dependent districts will need to submit by March 1, 2022.  SED will then compute per pupil expenditures and combine with other contextual information to produce a report. For 2020-21 school year data for school districts, the report will be available in Spring 2022.


II. Access to IDEx

Q: I am the superintendent/CEO and I cannot locate where to check the box for IDEx in SEDDAS to entitle others.

A: You will be checking the box next to “ESSA Financial Transparency (EFT)”.

Q: My superintendent granted Entitlements to my account, but I still cannot access the ESSA financial transparency report.

A: The Superintendent/CEO may have entitled your account as an account Administrator by selecting Entitle Administrator instead of Entitle Application when entitling your account, making you an Administrator but not a user.

To correct this, your Superintendent/CEO or any delegated entitlement administrator must choose Entitle Applications and then entitle you to the application they want you to have user access to (ESSA Financial Transparency (EFT)).  They can then then remove the administrator entitlements under the Entitle Administrator if they do not want you to be an Administrator.

Q: I am an entitled user to the ESSA Financial Transparency (EFT) application, but I cannot find ESSA under My Applications.

A: You will find the form for ESSA Financial Transparency Report after clicking on the IRS Data Exchange application.


III. Saving/Submitting/Editing

Q: What do I Save/Submit first this year?

A: Here’s the sequence:

  1. Enter your data to calculate your District Fringe Benefit Rate.  You will NOT SAVE this page.  Record your Rate on paper.
  2. Complete, save, and submit each of your school forms.
  3. After ALL school forms have then aggregated to the District form, complete, save, and submit your District form.

Q: How does my superintendent certify the information?

A: No certification is necessary. If the district form and all school forms are in submitted status, you've completed the submission process.

Q: Why does the form state, “No Response Provided” and not save my numbers when clicking SAVE or why is the submit button missing??

A: Districts have reported this behavior with Internet Explorer and EDGE web browsers, but we’ve been unable to isolate and correct the problem as yet.  Switching to Firefox seems to prevent this behavior in most cases.

Q: I don't see any forms in IDEx but I have confirmed I have the correct permissions in SEDDAS.

A: Certain versions of Internet Explorer have an issue displaying the list of forms. Switching to an alternate browser, such as Firefox, should address this issue.

Q: I don’t see my school forms; where are they located? 

A: School level information must be entered in school level forms.  You may be entitled as a district account, so by default, IDEx shows district forms.  School forms may be found by entering the institution ID, BEDS code, or school name in the “search by institution” field. 

Q. Why can’t I change certain numbers on the district form?

A: After all school forms have been saved and submitted, IDEx will sum school figures into the district form.  These figures are fixed on the district form.  To change these figures, school forms must be edited directly. 

Q: Why isn’t my district form reflecting the changes made in the school forms?

A: Each time you make a change to a school form, in order for it to be reflected in the district’s rollup, it must be re-saved AND resubmitted.  In order for the aggregation to the district form to occur, all schools must be in submitted status.

Q. Explain how different entries add up on the district level form.   

A: The district level form contains all information submitted on school level forms as well as central district entries.  Report View One and Two reflect two different views of the same expenditure data.   

Report View One:

  • “D. Total School Level” Expenditures is equal to the sum of Entries A1 through C3 for all schools. 
  • “H. Total District Level” Expenditures is equal to the sum of Entries E1 through G3 for central district expenditures. 
  • “I. Total District and School Level Spending” is the sum of D and H. 

Report View Two:

  • “N. Total District and School Level Spending” is equal to the sum of school level spending reported in “J. Total Local/State” + “K. Total Federal Spending” + “L. Total Local/State” + “M. Total Federal Spending.” 
  • “I. Total District and School Level Spending” and “N. Total District and School Level Spending” are the same value. 

Program Detail Areas

  • Entries O through T and U through Z are subsets of both I and N, and should not be summed or compared to other entries on the district level form.

Total Expenditures and Exclusions

  • Total Expenditures is equal to both Entry I + Total Exclusions and Entry N + Total Exclusions.  This figure should closely align to the ST-3 value included at the bottom of the District form.   

Q: I'd like to make changes to my data, but I've already submitted. What should I do?

A: You can re-open any ESSA school or district form and click “make changes” anytime up until the deadline. Once you've made the change, just remember to save and re-submit.  If you make a change to any school form, your district form will automatically change from submitted status back to saved.  Be sure to resave and resubmit the district form as well. 


IV. Individual Entries

Q: For the Fringe Benefit Rate Section, how do you define each line?

A:  Each line in the Fringe Benefit Rate Section can be understood as follows:

Q: In the Fringe Rate section, should I include benefits and salaries that get reported as an exclusion? For example, should transportation salaries and benefits be included in the Fringe Rate calculation?

A: If the district is using the Fringe Rate to calculate excluded benefits as well as benefits reported on the forms, districts should use all salaries and benefits to calculate the Fringe Rate.

If district is reporting actual benefits, including reporting actual benefits for excluded positions under the exclusion section, then the Fringe Rate should not include excluded salaries or benefits for these positions.

Q: Do I need to input all the decimals into the Fringe Benefit Rate % box that are shown when calculating my percentage?

A: Yes.  You will need to enter all decimal places shown in the calculation without rounding.  However, when multiplying your Fringe Rate against salaries, you may use a rounded fringe benefit rate. For the most accuracy, it is helpful to use all decimal places.  

Q: What is meant by “Total Personal Service” in the fringe benefit rate section?

A: Personal service should include all salaries and exclude all benefits.  Dividing personal service by total employee benefits for active employees should yield the fringe rate.  The fringe rate reflects the average benefit rate across all district employees. 

Q: Where should I report expenditures for students enrolled full-time in BOCES programs? Under 5 - Other Exclusions or under 3 - Other Tuition?

A: Expenditures for students enrolled full-time in BOCES programs should be reported under 5 - Other Exclusions.

Q.  The district contracts with a company to provide supplemental out-of-school instruction, such as tutoring.  Should this be reported as a central district expenditure or school level?   

A: Expenditures by the school district that are truly a central function (i.e., one that is shared equally by all schools in the district), such as the salary and benefits of the school district superintendent, should be attributed to the district through the “central district cost” category.  If these contractual expenditures can be attributed to a particular set of students, proportionately allocate these expenditures to the schools in which these students are enrolled.  If these contractual expenditures provide an open environment for all students to receive help, or the list of eligible students changes frequently, tutoring expenditures may be reported as a central district function.

Q: How should I report passthrough expenditures? 

A: Passthrough grants and funds which do not benefit students enrolled in a school or district program should be reported as an exclusion under Other.  For example, Expenditures paid to partners institutions of higher education or community organizations for services for students who are not enrolled in a program leading to a high school diploma or equivalent diploma should be excluded under “5. Other”.   

Q: What does the ST-3 value reflect? 

A: The ST-3 value reflects expenditures for the 2020-21 school year reported in 2021-22 SAMS for the following ST-3 codes:

+ Total General Fund Expenditures and Interfund Transfers (AT9999.0)
- Total Interfund Transfers (AT9951.0)
+ Total Special Aid Fund Expenditures and Interfund Transfers (FT9999.0)
- Total Interfund Transfers (FT9951.0)
+ Fiscal Agent Fees (V1380.4)
+ Total Principal (V9798.6)
+ Total Interest (V9798.7)
+ Total School Food Service Expenditures (CT9999.0)
- Total Interfund Transfers (C9901.9)
+ Total Public Library Fund Expenditures (LT9900.0)
+ Total Capital Fund Expenditures for Security of Plant (HT9900.0)
+ Total Permanent Fund Expenditures (PNT9999.0)
+ Total Misc Special Revenue Fund Expenditures (CMT9999.0)

Q: When is the ST-3 figure updated in IDEx? 

A: Every two weeks until December 1, then monthly thereafter.

Last Updated: February 4, 2022