Access Funding for Your Special Populations

Your Guide to Funding Sources for K-12 Special Education Programs

Recent federal legislation and appropriations have generated an enormous influx of funding for the education sector, including funds intended for students with special needs. The sections below are designed to walk you through the information you need to better understand the different funding sources available.

COVID-19 stimulus bills

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been three stimulus COVID bills with allocations for education, totalling about $190 Billion. Within these three bills, there are two areas of special interest for the K-12 Special Education sector: The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund and an additional $3 billion grant for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

Annual fiscal year appropriations

Each year, the U.S. federal government makes available fiscal year appropriations for education generally and special education specifically. The current administration has proposed significant increases to the federal education budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, including an additional $3 billion for special education through IDEA.

State funding

Since 1975, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) law has required that states provide a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) to all children with disabilities, regardless of the cost. Each state has its own way to allocate special education funding to school districts, which fits into one or more of the following categories: a multiple student weights system, a single student weights system, a census-based system, a resource allocation model, a block grant, or a high-cost model. The Education Commission of the States provides a state-by-state breakdown for each category.