March 4, 2014 Washington, D.C.
Today President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2015 Budget request. The $12.6 billion request for Special Education programs represents 18 percent of the total budget for the Education Department (see chart below). It includes $11.6 billion for Grants to States, an increase of $100 million from fiscal year 2014 (more about this $100 million increase below), to maintain the Federal contribution toward meeting the excess cost of special education at approximately 16 percent of the national average per pupil expenditure (APPE) and provide an estimated average of $1,758 per student for about 6.6 million children ages 3 through 21.
Special Education Grants to States (in millions)
2013 Actual: $10,974.9
2014 Actual: $11,472.8
2015 Request: $11,572.8
Estimated average Federal share per child (in whole dollars)
2013 Actual: $1,674
2014 Actual: $1,743
2015 Request: $1,758
Full Education budget request documents:
- The FY 2015 Education Budget Summary and Background Information (PDF, 1M) provides program information and detailed budget tables.
- The FY 2015 Justifications of Appropriations Estimates to the Congress.
Overview: Supporting Individuals with Disabilities PDF [92K] The Grants to States program, which is authorized under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), makes formula grants that help States pay the additional costs of providing special education and related services to children with disabilities aged 3 through 21 years. The FY 2015 request would provide a per-child average of $1,758 for an estimated 6.6 million children with disabilities, which represents a Federal contribution of about 16 percent of the national average per pupil expenditure. Under the IDEA, States are required to provide a free appropriate public education to all children with disabilities. Services are provided in accordance with individualized education programs that are developed by teams that include the child’s parents; a special educator; a representative of the local educational agency; a regular educator, if appropriate; and others. In addition, services must be provided—to the maximum extent appropriate—in the least restrictive environment, which for most children means in classes with children who are not disabled. Students with disabilities also must be included in general State and district-wide assessments, including the assessments required under ESEA, and States must provide appropriate accommodations, where necessary, to enable children with disabilities to participate in these assessments, or alternate assessments for those children who cannot participate in regular assessments. The request includes $100 million for Results Driven Accountability Incentive grants, which would provide competitive grants to States to implement State Systemic Implementation Plans to improve results for children with disabilities ages birth through 21. These incentive grants would be used by States to identify and implement promising, evidence-based reforms that would improve service delivery for children with disabilities while building State and local capacity to improve long-term outcomes for those children.(More about Results Driven Accountability is available here.) NOTE: IDEA Money Watch objects to this proposal. Competitive grantmaking should not be introduced into the IDEA formula grant program. This approach was also questioned by members of the House Appropriations Committee during a hearing on the President’s Education budget. The history of Federal funding for IDEA is shown in the chart below, from the Committee on Education Funding.