Budget Calls for Expanding Education Freedom, Block Granting K-12 Education Funds, and a Separate and Reformed Federal Student Aid

Adds New Funding to Support Children with Disabilities, Career and Technical Education for All Student

News Release, US Department of Education

WASHINGTON — The President released today his budget request for the U.S. Department of Education for the 2021 fiscal year. This transformative, student-first budget prioritizes improving student achievement, reducing the outsized Federal role in education, and returning control over education decisions to whom it belongs—State and local leaders, teachers, parents, and students.

The budget calls for consolidating nearly all existing K-12 formula and competitive grant programs into one block grant to States, called the Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged (ESED) Block Grant. Funds would be allocated using the same formulas as the Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies program. The budget also builds on the multi-year Federal Student Aid (FSA) reform project U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos launched in 2018 to improve management, oversight, and administration of student aid programs. To that end, the budget also proposes to answer a question Secretary DeVos asked at last year’s FSA training conference: Why isn’t FSA a stand-alone government corporation, run by a professional, expert, and apolitical Board of Governors?

“This budget proposal is about one thing—putting students and their needs above all else,” said Secretary DeVos. “That starts with creating Education Freedom Scholarships and helping 1 million more students find the best educational fit for them. We know education freedom helps students succeed, and it’s long past time for Congress to act to give students and their families more choices and more control.

“Our budget puts an end to education earmarks. Instead of Washington politicians and bureaucrats forcing local schools to spend limited resources on D.C.’s priorities, this budget proposes putting state and local leaders, teachers, parents, and students themselves in control of education. Our block grant proposal simply aligns the resources with the law of the land—the Every Student Succeeds Act. States will be free to focus on people, not paperwork. Results, not regulations. We know States will spend their money differently, and that’s okay. In fact, that’s what we hope they do. They know best how to serve their students.

“We also propose making critical new investments in supporting children with disabilities, moving closer to fulfilling Congress’ promise to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). And we’re asking for new resources for career and technical education to ensure every student in America has access to skills training to help them prepare for successful careers.

“Our proposal further asks Congress to partner with us in studying the Office of Federal Student Aid becoming a stand-alone entity. FSA has, in recent years, essentially ballooned into a $1.5 trillion bank that has outgrown its current governance structure. Students and their families deserve better from FSA. In the meantime, we’re continuing to build on our important customer-centric Next Generation reforms. Through a singular FSA platform, operating system, and a unified website, we will provide customers with a seamless student loan experience from application through repayment. We’re also providing students with more information than ever before so they can make better decisions about how they finance their education.”

Highlights from the President’s FY 2021 Budget Request include the following:

Expanding Education Freedom for Students

Education Freedom Scholarships (EFS) would provide up to $5 billion in additional education funding to help more than 1 million students across the country find their education fit

This proposal would dramatically expand the options available to families

States, not the Federal government, will design their own programs aimed at serving their students. Each State’s family eligibility requirements and allowable uses of scholarship funds will be aligned with their State’s unique needs

Funded by private, voluntary donations, EFS does not do a thing to change any funding amount already allocated to public school students or public school teachers

Empowering States to Best Meet the Needs of Students

The Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged (ESED) Block Grant consolidates most K-12 formula and competitive grant programs administered by the Department into one $19.4 billion formula grant program

This proposal builds on the promise of ESSA and right-sizes the Federal role in education by empowering States and school districts to spend Federal taxpayer funds the way they see fit to best support their most disadvantaged students

Funds would be allocated using the same formulas as the Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies program

States and local districts could use the funds for any authorized purposes of the consolidated programs, while continuing to meet accountability and reporting requirements aimed at protecting students, supporting school improvement, and providing parents the information they need to make educated decisions for their children

Increasing Career and Technical Education Opportunities for Students

The FY 2021 budget request dramatically increases funding for Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs by $900 million

This supports the Administration’s goal of ensuring every high school student in America has access to CTE programs that provide multiple, high-quality pathways to success after graduation

This request includes $2 billion, an increase of $680 million, for CTE State Grants to support high-quality CTE programs in high school and postsecondary institutions and $90 million, an increase of $83 million, for CTE National Programs to support high-quality CTE programs in STEM, including computer science

The budget also renews the President’s proposal to double the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act fee for the H-1B visa program which could generate an estimated $117 million in additional funding for the CTE State Grants program

Transforming Federal Student Aid to Better Serve Students

This budget request proposes continued modernization of all aspects of FSA in order to better serve its customers, including a call for an evaluation of FSA as a separate organization, with reformed governance

A new governance model would lead to improved management, oversight, and administration of student aid programs

The budget also proposes to simplify the Federal student loan programs and student loan repayment by reducing the numerous and complicated loan types, establishing reasonable annual and lifetime limits on those loans, providing higher education institutions more flexibility to help students avoid overborrowing, and streamlining income-based repayment plans

The budget request continues to fund the multi-year Next Generation (NextGen) student aid platform improvements, including the development and implementation of a new mobile-first, singular loan servicing platform that consolidates all customer-facing websites into one and provides customers with a seamless experience from application through repayment

Additional Critical Investments:

  • $14 billion for IDEA programs, a $100 million increase over FY 2020 enacted levels for IDEA Grants to States
  • $150 million, an increase of $137.4 million, for the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP) to fund STEM activities led by HBCUs and MSIs located in Opportunity Zones
  • $749.2 million for HBCU programs, an increase of $44 million over FY 2020 enacted level
  • $343 million for MSIs, an increase of $87.4 million, or 34%, over the FY 2020 enacted level

To view details of the full budget request, click here.

Support for President Trump’s FY 2021 Education Budget Proposal:

Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida

“Improving the quality and effectiveness of education for Florida’s students is a priority of my administration, and I am pleased that President Donald J. Trump and U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are supportive of our efforts. Every state has unique needs and challenges, and Florida is well-equipped to determine the best use of education resources that will lead to the ultimate goal of increased student outcomes.” 

Commissioner Frank Edelblut, New Hampshire Department of Education

“The people who know best what New Hampshire’s students and teachers need are families and educators in New Hampshire. President Trump and Secretary DeVos are right to restore local control and get the federal government out of the way. The proposed block grant would give us much-needed flexibility to align resources with the students and programs that need them the most. This is a big win for our students, teachers, principals, and states.”

Superintendent Elsie Arntzen, Montana Office of Public Instruction

“I want to thank President Trump and Secretary DeVos for their commitment to student-driven education and local control. In Montana, we know that one size does not fit all and that every student and community is unique. The President’s proposed 2021 education budget offers exciting opportunities to help Montana students succeed. Increased funding for career and technical education will provide students with the tools necessary to be Montana Ready after high school. Consolidated federal grants will allow school leaders and the Office of Public Instruction to spend more time serving students and less time on burdensome federal reporting. Education Freedom Scholarships will give Montana families additional financial resources to access dual enrollment, Advanced Placement, CTE coursework, work-based learning, tuition assistance, individualized education, and more. As Montana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, I will continue working with local, state, and federal partners to expand learning opportunities for Montana students— giving every student the opportunity to succeed.”

Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Florida Commissioner of Education

“President Trump and Secretary DeVos have truly made educational freedom the foundation of education throughout our nation and have empowered states to make decisions that best serve students. Receiving a great education creates life-long learners and develops all students to have a strong character. All students throughout the nation deserve the chance to receive a world-class education, be successful, and be civically engaged members of society, and I am proud to support this plan. This powerful collaboration with states enables educational opportunities to be placed back in the hands of states, local districts, and most importantly, parents, the people that know their children the best.”

Chairman Andy Tuck, Florida State Board of Education

“President Trump and Secretary DeVos have repeatedly made a strong commitment to spending taxpayer dollars wisely by consolidating duplicative federal programs that are better implemented at the state and local level. They truly understand that each student is unique and has empowered the nation, and Florida, to make great decisions that best serve individual students’ needs. This plan puts students first and returns the freedom and power of quality education to where it belongs: with families throughout our nation.”

Kermit Kaleba, National Skills Coalition

“Increased federal support for career and technical education will help more students, including adult learners, get the skills and credentials they need to succeed in a 21st-century economy. These are investments both workers and businesses think are critical – 85% of voters and 79% of businesses support greater public investment in skills. We’re pleased to see the Administration doubling down on CTE in the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget, and we urge Congress to take up the call for greater investment in America’s workforce.”

Jon Graft, Butler Tech (Career and Technical Education for Adults and Teens in Ohio)

“As a public school of choice, Butler Tech is able to offer over 200 different course options and 27 unique programs on our 5 campuses for high school and adult education learners.  Serving over 17,000 learners in a year, Butler Tech is one of the largest career tech centers in the state of Ohio. With the robust economy and the demand for skilled trades and healthcare jobs at an all-time high, the additional commitment to Career and Technical Education funding could not come at a more opportune time. Sadly, Butler Tech currently turns away 47% of our applicants due to our current inability to expand high demand programs such as Welding, Information Technology, Mechatronics, Aviation Exploration, and Healthcare.  Through Perkin’s funding expansion, we will be able to make a significant dent in providing skilled workers to the companies in Ohio that anticipate 12,000 annual job openings for in-demand occupations through 2024 (Ohio Department of Job and Family Services). We are excited to make the American Dream a reality for our students.”

Kim Green, Advance CTE

“Advance CTE and its members are grateful for this significantly increased investment to support high-quality Career and Technical Education (CTE). Advance CTE partners with many federal programs to ensure the success of each learner, and we believe that the budget must ensure robust support for the entire continuum of education and workforce programs. This additional funding will go a long way in helping to ensure that every learner in America—no matter their age, zip code or background—has access to high-quality CTE that leads to a fulfilling career and ensures a family-sustaining wage.”

Vince Bertram, President, and CEO of Project Lead the Way

“America’s global competitiveness requires a highly skilled workforce, and the opportunity to pursue the American Dream can be realized if our students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in our rapidly evolving economy. Investing today in America’s students and career and technical education is an essential investment in our nation’s future.”

LeAnn Wilson, Association for Career and Technical Education

“High-quality career and technical education (CTE) programs prepare millions of students in high schools and community and technical colleges around the country for careers in in-demand fields. An increase in Perkins funds to support these programs, particularly if leveraged with other important federal resources for education and workforce development programs, will help to ensure today’s learners are fully prepared with the skills needed to power America’s 21st-century economy.”

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...