Federal Education Aid: State Winners, Losers

By Andrew Ujifusa — December 11, 2018 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Federal education funding for K-12 is rising compared with where it was two years ago—but there are disparities in terms of which states are reaping the most benefits. And federal aid to disadvantaged students is actually on course to decline in several states over the first two years of the Trump administration.

Those are two main takeaways from the most recent statistics put out by the U.S. Department of Education about changes in funding over the past two years.

The Education Department’s budget has increased by a small degree since President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos assumed office, even though the Trump team has sought to slash the agency’s budget two years running. Congress has pointedly ignored the administration’s push.

To gauge the state-by-state federal funding environment, Education Week examined changes in state-by-state funding between fiscal 2017, the last budget Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed before Trump took office, and the fiscal 2019 spending that Trump approved about two months ago.


State Highlights

In addition to the total state-by-state spending on elementary and secondary education, the analysis also breaks out the changes for Title I grants to districts, which are earmarked for disadvantaged students and represent the single largest pot of federal K-12 cash. (The fiscal 2019 numbers are estimates at this point but give a good idea of where the numbers are heading.)

  • One winner over the past two years: California. The state with the largest public school enrollment is slated to get a Title I funding bump of more than 9 percent, from just over $1.8 billion in fiscal 2017 to a little over $2 billion in fiscal 2019. Total federal spending on California schools is estimated to increase 8.9 percent, from about $4.1 billion to roughly $4.4 billion.
  • Another big winner? Oklahoma, where Title I spending is due to jump from $169 million to $190 million, an increase of more than 12 percent. That’s the single-largest percentage increase of any state examined. It’s also noteworthy given the high-profile political fight in the Sooner State over state spending on public education that’s had a profound impact on schools and lawmakers. Overall spending on Oklahoma schools is expected to rise by about 8.5 percent from fiscal 2017 to fiscal 2019.
  • Who’s losing out? Kansas. Education funding in the Sunflower State is due to decline from $333 million to $327 million from fiscal 2017 to fiscal 2019. The state has been embroiled in school finance wars for years. Kansas is the only state where total elementary and secondary funding from the federal government is slated to dip from fiscal 2017 to fiscal 2019.
  • Another region that’s losing out, albeit from a narrower perspective, is New England. Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island are all estimated to receive less Title I money in fiscal 2019 than in fiscal 2017, although their aid didn’t decline by much. (Connecticut is due for the largest drop by percentage, or 4.4 percent.) And farther south, the department estimates that Georgia will receive a $3 million dip in Title I funding, although that’s just a tiny fraction of its fiscal 2017 Title I allocation of $540 million. One more Title I “loser”? DeVos’ home state of Michigan, where Title I aid is expected to decline by 3.9 percent down to $485 million.
  • Other than the Golden State, the West Coast is seeing its Title I funding slip. Oregon and Washington are on track to get less Title I district aid for disadvantaged students than they did two years ago. The same is true for Utah. Farther west than all those? Hawaii is on course for an 8.2 percent dip in Title I, the largest Education Week saw for any state.

Just because Congress decided to save a program from the Trump budget axe doesn’t mean that there aren’t changes afoot in funding for individual states.

  • West Virginia and Wisconsin, just to pick two states, are each due to lose roughly $2 million in funding for their Supporting Effective Instruction grants—better known as Title II, a program the teachers’ unions among others desperately fought to save as Trump sought to eliminate them. That’s a decline of 11.6 percent and 5.6 percent for West Virginia and Wisconsin, respectively.
  • For individual programs across states, there tended to be relatively large increases in funding for homeless children and youths, special education, and career and technical education.
  • Puerto Rico is also worth highlighting. Its federal funding setup is different from its state counterparts, but the department estimates the island’s Title I aid will be $391 million in fiscal 2019, a decline of 4.2 percent, and its total elementary and secondary aid will total $650 million, a 1.9 percent dip. The U.S. territory has been losing students for many years, a trend that accelerated after Hurricane Maria last year. But those shrinking statistics might be a tough pill to swallow for Puerto Rico since it’s still deep in recovery mode from the storm.

The Title I formula is remarkably complex. In fact, it’s really four formulas in one. Congress considered tinkering with it three years ago, not long before the Every Student Succeeds Act passed, but ultimately abandoned the effort. The formula depends on a variety of factors, student population and demographics among them. In fact, there’s a some evidence that Title I money is not particularly well-targeted.

Also keep this in mind: Federal education funding tends to make up roughly 10 percent of total spending on public schools, so relatively short-term changes in Beltway aid tend not to have the same impact on any individual state as changes agreed to by its lawmakers or local district decisionmakers.

A version of this article appeared in the December 12, 2018 edition of Education Week as Federal Education Aid: State Winners, Losers


Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
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.
Data Webinar
Using Integrated Analytics To Uncover Student Needs
Overwhelmed by data? Learn how an integrated approach to data analytics can help.

Content provided by Instructure
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. f we

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

Federal Senate Confirms Catherine Lhamon to Civil Rights Post; Kamala Harris Casts Decisive Vote
Joe Biden's controversial pick to lead the Education Department's office for civil rights held that job in the Obama administration.
2 min read
Catherine Lhamon, nominee to be assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, testifies during a Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.
Catherine Lhamon, then-nominee to be assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, testifies during a Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee confirmation hearing in July.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
Federal White House Outlines COVID-19 Vaccination Plans for Kids 5-11
The Biden administration will rely on schools, pharmacies, and pediatricians to help deliver the COVID-19 shots to younger children.
3 min read
Ticket number 937 sits on a COVID-19 vaccination at the drive-thru vaccination site in the Coweta County Fairgrounds on Jan. 14, 2021, in Newnan, Ga.
A ticket number sits on a COVID-19 vaccination at the drive-thru vaccination site in the Coweta County Fairgrounds in Newnan, Ga.
Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP
Federal California, Florida, and Other States Waiting on Green Light for Their COVID Relief Plans
The list of states with Ed. Dept. approval for their American Rescue Plan blueprints is growing steadily, but two big states aren't on it.
4 min read
Image shows an illustration of money providing relief against coronavirus.
DigitalVision Vectors/iStock/Getty
Federal What Is a School Shooting? Members of Congress Seek a Federal Definition, Reliable Data
A new bill would direct federal departments to track data related to school shootings, a term for which there is no federal definition.
Daniela Altimari, Hartford Courant
4 min read
Police respond to the scene of a shooting at Heritage High School in Newport News, Va., on Saturday Sept. 20, 2021. Newport News police Chief Steve Drew said two students were shot and taken to the hospital and neither injury was thought to be life-threatening. The chief said authorities believe the suspect and victims knew one another but did not provide details.
Police respond to the scene of a shooting at Heritage High School in Newport News, Va., on Saturday Sept. 20, 2021.
John C. Clark/AP Photo