The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, signed into law on February 17, aims to lend a helping hand to not only employment, health care and taxes, but significantly for the struggling state school systems: It more than doubles the education funding of the previous presidential administration.
Of the act’s $787 billion cost ($288 billion in tax cuts and $499 billion in spending), up to $141.6 billion will go to education, according to the Department of Education. Granted, most estimates are closer to $120 billion, but that’s still a sizable sum compared to previous allotments for education. The direct funding of education (as opposed to tax credits, tuition grants, renovations and administration) alone amounts to over $77 billion, a 159% increase over 2008 allocations for the Department of Education. The breakdown of the education budget is laid out after the jump…State Fiscal Stabilization Fund: $53.6 Billion
Student Financial Assistance: $15.84 Billion
These funds, available through September 30, 2011, include $15.64 billion for increasing the maximum amount available for Pell Grants (need-based grants to low-income undergraduate college students) by over $500 per student. The cap will be $5,350 in 2009 and $5,550 in 2010. Also included is $200 million for work-study programs.
American Opportunity Tax Credit: $13.9 Billion
This is a maximum $2,500-per-person tax credit for college students in 2009 and 2010, making college more affordable to those in their first four years of post-secondary education.
Education for the Disadvantaged: $13 Billion
This includes $10 billion for grants to local education agencies and $3 billion for school improvement grants, “to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.” This money essentially goes to strengthening enforcement of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Special Education: $12.2 Billion
This amount is to aid in enforcement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which governs how states and public agencies provide special education and related services to children with disabilities.
State Incentive Grants and Innovation Fund Grants: $5 Billion
This money will be distributed on a competitive basis to states who show the most progress in four areas: 1) teacher quality, especially in poorer and high-minority schools; 2) data systems to track the progress of student learning; 3) academic standards and testing ability; and 4) support of struggling schools.
Head Start: $2.1 Billion
This amount includes $1 billion for Head Start and $1.1 billion for Early Head Start, which provide education, health, nutrition and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families.
Child Care Development Block Grant: $2 Billion
This funding is to support quality child care for struggling families through the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF).
School Improvement Programs: $720 Million
This includes $650 million for technology grants through the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program and $70 million for grants to aid homeless students. The funding of EETT, which seeks to use technology to improve elementary and secondary student achievement, should improve online access and the technological capabilities of students in those grades, better preparing them for future employment.
Rehabilitation Services and Disability Research: $680 Million
This money provides grants through the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to states to “empower individuals with disabilities to maximize employment, economic self sufficiency, independence and inclusion and integration into society” by providing job rehabilitation programs, plus independent living centers and services for older blind individuals.
Institute of Education Sciences: $250 Million
This money is for competitive grants to state educational agencies to enable them to construct statewide data systems for tracking individual student progress.
Innovation and Improvement: $200 Million
These funds go toward grants to any agencies or institutions of higher education “to support nationally significant programs to improve the quality of elementary and secondary education at the state and local levels and help all children meet challenging state academic content and student academic achievement standards.”
Impact Aid: $100 Million
This goes towards the Impact Aid Program, which provides funding and technical support to “local educational agencies that are financially burdened by federal activities.”
Higher Education: $100 Million
This amount goes toward increasing academic achievement by improving teacher and principal quality, as mandated by the Higher Education Act.
Student Aid Administration: $60 Million
This money goes to aid in the administration of delivery of student financial aid, including loans, grants and work-study programs.
Office of the Inspector General: $14 million
These funds, available through September 30, 2012, provide for salaries and expenses necessary for oversight and audit of programs, grants and projects funded by the ARRA.
While not necessarily historic in scope, the ARRA is a big step forward for the state of American education, providing at least some level of stability to eroding state budgets, minimizing faculty layoffs and improving accessibility to students struggling in the economic downturn.