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We're speaking up for our students and public schools. Visit our Action Center to find out what you can do.
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Issue Explainer

Education Funding and Budget

Congress funds critical programs serving the students most in need through the annual budget process. The federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30.
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Published: December 2, 2021

Of the total amount spent on education in the United States each year, the federal government accounts for less than 10 percent. The rest comes from state and local governments and other non-federal sources. But the federal role is more than money. It’s also about protecting civil rights and ensuring equal opportunity for all students. 

Federal aid for education comes with strings. To get it, states must follow laws like ESSA, the current version of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the cornerstone of the federal role in education. Different sections of the law target different groups—for example, Title 1 covers schools with high percentages of low-income students.  

The U.S. Department of Education describes the federal role in education as “a kind of ‘emergency response system,’ a means of filling gaps in State and local support for education when critical national needs arise.” 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act reflects the federal government’s commitment to provide a free, appropriate public education to students with disabilities and paying 40 percent of the additional costa commitment that remains unfulfilled.  

NEA is a strong advocate for increasing the federal investment in Department of Education programs and ensuring that they help the students most in need of support and resources.

NEA also advocates for education-related programs administered by other federal agencies—for example, USDA school meals programs and CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program.


Letters & Testimony

NEA speaks up for the rights of students. Browse recent messages to Congressional leadership, and add your voice.

Bills in Congress

Learn NEA's position on pending legislation related to public education, and take action to protect our schools

We're speaking up for our students and public schools. Visit our Action Center to find out what you can do.

Are you an affiliate?

Jump to updates, opportunities, and resources for NEA state and local affiliates.
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Speak Up For Students and Public Schools

When we act together and lift our voices together in unison, we can improve the lives of children.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.