State Policy Network
In Big Win for Students, Mississippi Reforms its Education Funding Formula 

Mississippi policymakers passed a law that replaces the state’s current student education formula with a new system that focuses on the unique needs of individual students. 

The way Mississippi currently funds its public education system is through the Mississippi Adequate Education Funding Formula Program, or MAEP system. “Under MAEP, the money does not always get to where it is most needed: the classroom,” said Douglas Carswell, President & CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. 

Lawmakers replaced this system with the Mississippi Student Funding Formula—a new weighted student funding formula for distributing tax dollars to public school districts based on the characteristics of the students within each district. The formula will award each student $6,695. Some students may get additional funding on top of that, based on their unique needs. For example, students with disabilities or students from lower income households will receive more money.  

With this new system, education funding now follows the student.  

Empower Mississippi and Mississippi Center for Public Policy Key to Advancing this Reform 

This legislation, also called HB 4130, could not have passed without the efforts of Empower Mississippi and the Mississippi Center for Public Policy (MCPP), two nonprofit policy organizations that are working to improve the lives of Mississippians.  

In 2023, Empower Mississippi and MCPP developed an interactive, web-based model that lawmakers could use to create a new, student-centered public education funding formula. That tool became the foundation for legislative efforts this session to replace the state’s existing funding formula with a new, student-centered model that allocates additional funding for Mississippi’s neediest students, such as those who live in poverty and those with special needs. 

MCPP also used media placements and other outreach to make the case for reform and explain how reforming the way Mississippi funds its K-12 education system can help students and their families in the Magnolia State. Their efforts culminated in the Legislature passing HB 4130 in April 2024.  

Wil Ervin, senior vice president at Empower Mississippi, added:  

“The passage of HB 4130 is a tremendous victory for Mississippi students. This new model will direct public education funding to the students who need it most and ensure sufficient services are available to better enable them to succeed.” 

State Policy Network was also involved in this win, providing strategic guidance to both Empower Mississippi and MCPP as they worked to make Mississippi’s education funding system more student-centered. Douglas Carswell, noted:  

“From the moment they chaired a round table conversation about school funding reform back in August 2022 to the moment that the bill was passed, SPN played a critical role in helping us achieve this win. SPN helped us get some strategic clarity as to what we needed to do to achieve this change. They encouraged us to come together with a local coalition that even extended beyond the SPN network. They allowed us to draw from the experience of other states that have navigated similar wins. We would not have had this win without SPN on board.” 

Next Steps for Mississippi Education Reform  

Reforming the way Mississippi funds its K-12 education system so it focuses more on individual students will hopefully open the door to future education reform in the state.  

Grant Callen, Founder & CEO of Empower Mississippi, noted: 

“HB 4130 is a transformational step forward in ensuring that Mississippi funds students, not systems. We believe every student should have access to an education that meets their unique needs, and for years we’ve advocated for embracing a public education funding formula that focuses on meeting the needs of individual students. Critical to that was repealing the deeply flawed MAEP formula. We commend lawmakers for passing this landmark legislation and look forward to continuing to work with state leaders as we advance meaningful educational policies in the future.” 

Additional Reading:  

Transformational Education Bill Becomes Law 
Empower Mississippi  

Empower Mississippi Praises Passage of New Education Funding Formula 
Empower Mississippi  

Mississippi to Change School Funding. Here’s Why it’s Such a Big Deal 
Mississippi Center for Public Policy  

Is There Still a Chance for School Funding Reform? What to Know 
Mississippi Center for Public Policy  

Organization: State Policy Network