Policy & Funding

Congress Averts Government Shutdown, Funds Department of Education

The United States Department of Education is receiving nearly $71.5 billion for fiscal year 2019, a $581 million increase from the previous year.

With midterm elections just over a month away, Congress averted another government shutdown on Wednesday by the House of Representatives passing 12 appropriations bills and sending the legislation to the president.  The Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act of 2019 provides nearly $71.5 billion to the Department of Education, which is a $581 increase from the fiscal year 2018. President Donald Trump signed the bill into law Friday.

The largest share of the funds, $12.4 billion, goes to fund special education grants to the states.  It represents an increase of nearly $87 million in funding from fiscal year 2018.

Student support and academic achievement grant funds total $1.17 billion, which is a $70 million increase from fiscal year 2018. These grants are flexible funds provided to states and school districts to expand access, improve school conditions and increase the use of technology.

Other changes include:

  • Increasing the maximum Pell Grant award by $100 to $6,195;
  • Providing over $1.4 billion for Impact Aid;
  • Increasing funding for charter schools by $40 million to a total of $440 million;
  • Increasing the amount of funding of TRIO and GEAR UP programs to help first generation college students by $50 million and $10 million, respectively, which brings program funding totals to $1.06 billion and $360 million respectively; and
  • Providing $1.9 billion, an increase of nearly $95 million, for career, technical and adult education programs.

The legislation also renews the federal Open Textbook Pilot for another year for $5 million.  The textbook pilot gives colleges and universities the ability to create and use open educational resources, which are made freely available to download, edit and share.  This program is administered by the Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of the Postsecondary Education Program, which builds on early successes at the state level in Georgia, North Dakota and Washington. 

The legislation was approved in the House In a 361-61 vote on Wednesday and was subsequently signed into law by President Trump as part of a package of 12 appropriations bills. The legislation will keep the government open through Dec. 7. 

Read the full text of the Education funding law here.

[Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the bill was signed into law.]

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

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