Education Funding

Biden’s Budget Proposes Smaller Bump to Education Spending

By Libby Stanford — March 11, 2024 7 min read
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on lowering prices for American families during an event at the YMCA Allard Center on March 11, 2024, in Goffstown, N.H.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

President Joe Biden hopes to secure more money for high-need schools and students with disabilities, and to make free preschool universally available to 4-year-olds in the next fiscal year.

Biden released his proposed 2025 budget on March 11, requesting $82 billion for the U.S. Department of Education.

The budget announcement came days after Biden’s State of the Union address, in which he called for teacher pay raises and expanded access to preschool, tutoring, summer learning, and career and technical education.

See Also

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol on March 7, 2024, in Washington.
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol on March 7, 2024, in Washington.
Shawn Thew/Pool via AP
Federal Biden Calls for Teacher Pay Raises, Expanded Pre-K in State of the Union
Evie Blad, March 7, 2024
5 min read

The budget document puts many of those priorities on paper. Though there’s virtually no chance it will take effect as proposed, with Republicans controlling one chamber of Congress and proposing domestic spending cuts, Biden’s budget signals his priorities as he seeks reelection in November.

The budget proposes an increase of $3.9 billion over the 2023 budget for the Education Department, and a $2.8 billion bump above projected spending for 2024, for which Congress hasn’t passed a final budget.

In past years, Biden’s budget proposals have included requests for much larger increases in education funding than this year’s request. The 2024 proposal requested a $10.8 billion increase in education funding over 2023 levels, and the 2023 proposal requested a $15.3 billion increase.

The smaller increase proposed this year is the result of the 2023 Fiscal Responsibility Act, a law that allowed Congress to avoid a government shutdown last spring by suspending the debt ceiling through fiscal years 2024 and 2025. The law imposed a cap of nearly $711 billion in nondefense spending for fiscal year 2025, which starts Oct. 1, 2024.

In a news conference with reporters Monday, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the proposed budget falls within those caps and emphasized that people should view this year’s proposal in context. Last year, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives proposed a budget that would have cut funding for Title I schools by 80 percent, and former President Donald Trump proposed reductions to education spending each year of his term.

“Despite the cap of the Fiscal Responsibility Act this year, this budget still matches the best budget of the Obama years while building on the best budget of this administration, and it blows the Trump budgets out of the water,” Cardona said. “There’s a big difference between raising the bar from the ground and raising the bar from the rooftop.”

A proposed boost for high-need students and schools

The federal government spends far less on public education than state and local governments, but it’s a key funding source particularly for schools in low-income communities and for special education.

As in past years, the budget proposal requests more money for the Title I program, which provides funding for academic programs in schools in low-income communities. The budget proposes $18.6 billion for the program, a $200 million increase over 2023.

If enacted, it would bring the administration’s total increases to Title I funding since 2021 to $2.1 billion. Biden had proposed tripling Title I funding to more than $45 billion while running for president, a proposal he hasn’t come close to achieving.

The administration hopes to further support high-need schools with a proposal for $8 billion in funding to states to provide academic acceleration and achievement grants to schools. Schools would use the grants to support efforts to increase attendance, provide high-quality tutoring and student support, and expand learning time, according to the budget proposal.

In addition, the budget proposes a $12 billion Reducing the Costs of College Fund, the majority of which, $7 billion, would fund grants to state education departments to expand high school students’ access to free dual-enrollment courses that provide both high school and college course credit. The remaining $5 billion would fund grants to colleges and universities to help lower the costs of college and develop evidence-based strategies to improve college graduation rates.

The budget proposal also includes $14.4 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act state grants, a $200 million increase over the 2023 enacted level. The proposal includes $125 million in grants to cover the costs of special education and early intervention personnel in schools, which have been among the most difficult roles for districts to fill. The personnel grant proposal represents a $10 million increase over the 2023 budget.

Even with an increase in spending under IDEA, the budget would continue to fall short of meeting Congress’s promise to cover 40 percent of the excess cost of educating children in special education when it passed IDEA in the 1970s. The federal government has never met that promise.

The president also proposed a $50 million increase to the department’s Full-Service Community Schools grant program, bringing the total to $200 million. The program provides funds to support schools that offer wraparound services to students and families, such as medical and dental care, financial literacy classes, housing help, and more.

The budget proposes $5 billion in 2025—and $200 billion over the next decade—to make free preschool universally accessible for 4-year-olds through a state-federal partnership. Parents would be able to choose the setting. Biden’s budget in past years included a similar proposal, which would also give states the option of expanding preschool to 3-year-olds once it’s available to all 4-year-olds.

The budget also includes a $544 million increase in funding for Head Start to pay for teacher pay increases. A new rule proposed by the Biden administration seeks to raise the pay of Head Start teachers in the coming years, bringing it closer to K-12 teacher salaries. The program, which serves low-income children, is experiencing its highest teacher turnover in two decades, limiting how many children it can serve.

See Also

Close cropped photo of a young child putting silver coins in a pink piggy bank.

Other priorities in the budget proposal include:

  • $1.5 billion for the Perkins career and technical education program, a $40 million increase over 2023 spending.
  • $216 million for school mental health programs to increase the number of school-based counselors, psychologists, social workers, and other mental health professionals in K-12 schools.
  • $215 million for teacher-preparation grants, including $90 million for the Supporting Effective Educator Development grant, a competitive professional-development program; $95 million for the Teacher Quality Partnership program, which supports colleges of education; and $30 million for the Hawkins Centers of Excellence program, which supports teacher education at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions.
  • $173 million for the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Fund to support recruitment and retention of educators.
  • $940 million to support multilingual learners through the Title III English Language Acquisition program, which is an increase of $50 million from 2023.
  • $72 million to help schools hire bilingual teachers and craft professional development on multilingual education.
  • $15 billion over 10 years to allow more states and schools to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s program that allows low-income schools to provide free meals to all students.

Budget receives praise from teachers’ unions, rebuke from congressional Republicans

Predictably, Biden’s budget proposal earned praise from teachers’ union leaders and criticism from Republicans in Congress.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement Monday that the president’s budget would give students access to public schools “where they can grow into their full brilliance.”

“President Joe Biden’s budget shows that he values the voice of parents and educators and that his vision for this country is one where all students—Black and white, Native and newcomer, Latino and [Asian American and Pacific Islander]—are always a top priority,” Weingarten said.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, chairwoman of the House’s Education and the Workforce Committee, said in a statement that the president’s budget “will make the nation keel over from shouldering more unsustainable and irresponsible debt.”

Specifically, the North Carolina Republican took issue with Biden’s higher education proposals, including a proposal to create free community college options and increase Pell Grant amounts, and his expansion of the Community Eligibility Provision.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Reframing Behavior: Neuroscience-Based Practices for Positive Support
Reframing Behavior helps teachers see the “why” of behavior through a neuroscience lens and provides practices that fit into a school day.
Content provided by Crisis Prevention Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Mathematics Webinar
Math for All: Strategies for Inclusive Instruction and Student Success
Looking for ways to make math matter for all your students? Gain strategies that help them make the connection as well as the grade.
Content provided by NMSI

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding Explainer How Can Districts Get More Time to Spend ESSER Dollars? An Explainer
Districts can get up to 14 additional months to spend ESSER dollars on contracts—if their state and the federal government both approve.
4 min read
Illustration of woman turning back hands on clock.
Education Week + iStock / Getty Images Plus Week
Education Funding Education Dept. Sees Small Cut in Funding Package That Averted Government Shutdown
The Education Department will see a reduction even as the funding package provides for small increases to key K-12 programs.
3 min read
President Joe Biden delivers a speech about healthcare at an event in Raleigh, N.C., on March 26, 2024.
President Joe Biden delivers a speech about health care at an event in Raleigh, N.C., on March 26. Biden signed a funding package into law over the weekend that keeps the federal government open through September but includes a slight decrease in the Education Department's budget.
Matt Kelley/AP
Education Funding States Are Pulling Back on K-12 Spending. How Hard Will Schools Get Hit?
Some states are trimming education investments as financial forecasts suggest boom times may be over.
6 min read
Collage illustration of California state house and U.S. currency background.
F. Sheehan for Education Week / Getty
Education Funding Using AI to Guide School Funding: 4 Takeaways
One state is using AI to help guide school funding decisions. Will others follow?
5 min read
 Illustration of a robot hand drawing a graph line leading to budget and finalcial spending.