Weighted Student Formula

The Weighted Student Formula (WSF) is a fair and equitable way to distribute funds for school budgets. A baseline amount per student is set, with additional funding ("weights") aligned with different student needs and characteristics. Funding follows students to the schools they attend, equalizing opportunities at the student level. Weights are set by the Committee on Weights, comprised of teachers, administrators and community members.

​Archived WSF reports

Weighted Student Formula reports dating back to 2006 are available here.

Archived COW documents

Committee on Weights documents dating back to the 2014-15 school year.

About WSF​

The Weighted Student Formula equitably distributes operating budget funds to schools based upon the number of students they serve and the needs and characteristics of those students. Estimates of the WSF are made throughout the year to incorporate the latest numbers for enrollment and allocations. These reports are provided to schools so they may produce their financial plans for the coming school year; the Financial Plan guides school-level spending on staff, programs, resources and more (see below, or review our factsheet for details). How WSF works:

  • Base funding is provided to every school based on type
  • A specific dollar amount is allocated to educate each student enrolled
  • Additional money is given to educate students with identified characteristics that impact their learning and achievement. These include, among others:
    • Gifted & Talented
    • Economic Disadvantage
    • Limited English Proficiency (English Learners)
    • Transiency

Learn more about how the weights are set.

During the budget process (prior to the opening of the Legislative Session), the Department may submit requests for increases for the Weighted Student Formula. These requests may be based on projected increases in statewide enrollment, recommendations from the Board of Education, or other sources.

Based on dollars available under the WSF, each school principal working in tandem with the School Community Council produces an annual Financial Plan to fund the school's Academic Plan and basic operations. In the past, it was difficult for principals to make educational decisions when they did not know how much money they would receive. Through direct school funding, principals now decide how to spend a substantial portion of the Department's operating budget. This enables principals to plan and operate their school to best meet the educational needs of their students. We encourage parents and the community to get involved in the development of a school's Financial Plan by joining the School Community Council in their neighborhood. Relevant documents for Fiscal Year 2024-25:

Starting in FY 2020-21, per the recommendation of the HIDOEʻs Special Education Task Force, a new funding formula — a Special Education Per Pupil Allocation (SPPA) — similar to the WSF will be used to disburse special education funding: 

  • $66,000 base funding for each school
  • Use of select student characteristics as 0.1 weights:
    • Specific Learning Disabled
    • Other Health Disabled
    • Speech or Language Disabled
  • Per-pupil funding begins with the fifth student
  • Of the balance:
    • 90% allocated to schools based on headcount
    • 10% allocated to schools at the discretion of the Complex Area Superintendent (CAS)

Learn more about the Special Education program here.


Allocation adjustments based on updated enrollment counts are made three times throughout the year. The first adjustment is made based on the Official Enrollment Count (OEC) taken shortly after the school year starts. Each school’s WSF allocation is recalculated based on their official enrollment, updated demographic information, and the final WSF appropriation available to the Department. A school’s allocation may be increased or decreased based on this recalculation.

The second and third adjustments are made based on enrollment counts taken at the end of the first quarter (in September or October) and the beginning of the second semester (in January), respectively. Unlike the adjustment made for the OEC, schools will only receive an allocation adjustment if there is an increase to their enrollment. Relevant documents for Fiscal Year 2023-24 Enrollment Adjustments:

The Committee on Weights

This group of educators and community members meets during the spring and summer to develop recommended revisions to fine-tune the WSF, which are delivered to the Board of Education. During these meetings, Committee members review student characteristics impacting educational cost and existing types of funds currently used to support student learning. The Board determines the composition of the Committee on Weights based on a recommendation by the Superintendent and the Dean of the College of Education at the University of Hawaii. The Committee on Weights was established by Act 51 and Act 221, passed during the 2004 Legislative Session.

The primary functions of the Committee on Weights are to determine:

  • which operating funds should be placed in a single allocation based on student characteristics,
  • the student characteristics used to allocate funds to schools,
  • the amount of "weight" (or amount of the characteristic on the cost of education) for each characteristic, and
  • specific units for each characteristic.

COW XIII met during the summer of 2023. Meeting agendas, minutes and meeting materials are available below:


​COW XIII: SY2023-24

COW XII: SY2019-20

COW XI: SY2018-19

COW X: SY2017-18

COW IX: SY2016-17

COW VIII: SY2014-15

COW VII: SY2012-13


COW VI: SY2011-12

COW V: SY2010-11

COW IV: SY2009-10

COW III: SY2008-09

COW II: SY2007-08


​​​​​Evaluations, studies


2013 EXTERNAL EVALUATION. An audit of Hawaii's Weighted Student Formula conducted by the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

​​​2005 ADEQUACY STUDY. A study to develop a school funding model conducted by Grant Thornton in 2005.


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