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Biden Budget Proposal is Historic High-Water Mark for Education Funding

Medal for achievement in education with diploma, hat and books standing on stack of coins on gray backgroundThis blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE. 

Biden- Harris Administration Unveils Massive Budget with Historic Investments in Education

On the Friday before the long-awaited Memorial Day holiday, just as Members of Congress were headed home and the rest of us were finalizing our plans for the long weekend, the White House unveiled the complete version of the Biden-Harris Administration’s full budget proposal for FY 2022.

The budget proposal calls for $102.8 billion for the Department of Education—a $29.8 billion or 41% increase to the Department’s current spending levels. This increase in funding would be the largest increase the Department has seen since its inception in 1979.

In a statement , Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said, “This proposal reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ensuring that student success remains at the heart of the Department of Education’s work. It calls on Congress to prioritize the physical and mental health of students and close education equity gaps, especially in underserved communities. We need to focus on not only recovering from the pandemic but also look towards our students’ education after the pandemic to ensure there are improved resources to build our education system back better than before. This budget ensures all students have access to high-quality, affordable postsecondary education, while also improving career pathways for students of all ages and levels.”  

The budget is a complex document, as it includes both the typical funding recommendations for the next fiscal year, which we see annually, as well as substantial new investments and programs reflected in the two massive proposals Biden previously put forward – the American Jobs Plan (often called “Infrastructure”) and the American Families Plan. These 10-year visionary plans include funding for education along with multiple other sectors and total trillions of dollars in new spending. Congress is looking over these plans now—and negotiating with the White House on a possible infrastructure bill. The descriptions you will see below include both FY 2022 funding proposals (discretionary spending primarily) as well as proposals for new, and often mandatory spending, for both existing and new programs. The funding column in the chart below labeled “2022 Request Discretionary” is the one Congress will likely pay the most attention to.  The new mandatory spending from the American Families Plan will be a tougher sell. 

Some of the largest funding increases recommended in the budget include the following:

  • $20 billion for Title I is for a new Equity Grant, not the existing state grant program;
  • $1 billion for a new School-Based Health Professionals program for the first year of a 10-year campaign to double the number of counselors, nurses, and mental health professionals in schools;
  • $36.5 billion for Title I grants, a $20 billion increase from FY2021;
  • $15.5 billion for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act grants, a $2.7 billion increase to support special education and related services for more than 7.6 million pre-K through twelfth grade students;
  • $11.9 billion for Head Start, a $1.2 billion increase for the program which serves almost 1 million low-income 3-to 5-year-olds across the nation;
  • $732 million for IDEA Part C, a $250 million increase for early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities or delays;
  • Increase Pell Grants by $400, with an additional $85 billion over 10 years to increase the maximum Pell by $1475; and
  • Increase TEACH grants from $4,000 to $8,000 per year for juniors, seniors, and graduate students pursing teaching credentials in a high need field and in a school serving low-income students; in addition the GPA requirement would be eliminated.

It is difficult to overstate the magnitude of this budget proposal—in so many areas. The Department highlighted the $15.5 billion for IDEA Part B grants to states as the “… largest increase in the Federal contribution toward meeting the excess cost of special education in two decades,” making this a significant first step on the path to fully funding IDEA.

While the budget proposal is excellent news for all of education, it is particularly good news for those concerned about the education profession, the shortage of educators and the infrastructure in higher education that provides for a pipeline of new educators. In addition to the doubling of the TEACH grants, noted above, the recommendations in the chart below are truly unprecedented and a reflection of the keen understanding of the Biden Administration of the challenges related to having enough diverse and well-prepared educators to meet the needs of all students.

Current level   
Request Discretionary   
AFP New Request
IDEA Personnel   Preparation    
$90.2 M   
$250 M   
$90 M   
$340 M   
Teacher Quality   Partnership Grants   
$52.1 M   
$132 M   
$280 M   
$412 M   
Hawkins Centers of   Excellence   
$20 M   
$40 M   
$60 M   
School Based Health   Professionals    
$ 1 B   
$ 1 B   
Expanding Opportunities   for Teacher Leader Development   
$ 250 M   
$ 250 M   
In- Demand   Credentials for Teachers   
$1.6 B   

Congress will now begin to study the President’s recommendations and write the FY 2022 appropriations bills. The House is scheduled to begin in June. And now the advocacy really begins!

Read the full Washington Update on my website for more information. Follow us on Twitter  @janewestdc and @brennan_kait.


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Jane E. West

AACTE Education Policy Consultant