Education Policy: Resources for Congressional Staff

Education; elementary education; elementary and secondary education; higher education; postsecondary education; Department of Education; education budget; education appropriations; education resources; education statistics; federal education policy; Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; House Committee on Education and the Workforce; education spending; early childhood education; Head Start; IDEA; Individuals with Disabilities Education; Preschool Development Grants; student financial assistance; higher education tax benefits; GI Bill; federal support for institutions of higher education; Perkins Act; STEM Programs; adult education; education research; civil rights; education privacy; Every Student Succeeds Act

Education Policy: Resources for Congressional Staff

June 4, 2018 (R45215)

Contents

Purpose and Scope

This report is intended to serve as a starting point for congressional staff assigned to cover issues related to federal education programs and policies. The report outlines federal education programs and benefits, agencies that administer them, congressional committees of jurisdiction, laws, regulations, and sources of data. It also provides links to relevant Congressional Research Service (CRS) products and other resources that describe federal education programs and benefits.

This report focuses primarily on the larger federal education programs and benefits, including those supporting elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, early childhood education, education for students with disabilities, adult education, career and technical education, and veterans' education. It does not attempt to be an exhaustive resource. It covers programs that are centrally focused on education that operate on a reasonably large scale. It does not include information on several of the more discretely focused federal educational investments, such as support for Department of Defense Schools, District of Columbia schools and students, or on some other investments that can be considered educational in nature, such as investments in workforce development programs. It also does not cover child or school nutrition programs or programs supporting health clinics in schools. CRS reports on several of these topics and other education-related topics are available on the CRS.gov website.

Introduction to Education Policy

The Federal Government's Role in Supporting Education

In the United States, primary responsibility for establishing elementary and secondary education policy and for school funding rests with the states and local entities therein.1 Federal support typically supplements state and local funding.

Postsecondary education is financed through a mix of state appropriations, endowment revenue, and tuition payments from students and their families. Federal assistance supports eligible students and families who are making those payments.

The majority of the federal programs, activities, and benefits supportive of education at all levels are authorized by a limited number of major education laws. While federal education programs, activities, and benefits have varied foci and address many different aims, broadly speaking, they collectively provide for the following:

  • Research and statistics on the progress and condition of education and on the efficacy of programs and practices;
  • Supplemental grants supporting core services and programs in elementary and secondary schools serving concentrations of disadvantaged students;
  • Targeted grants supporting the creation, improvement, and/or operation of programs targeting particular educational aims, at all levels of education (including early childhood);
  • Financial aid for postsecondary students, such as grants, loans, work-study assistance, and tax benefits to encourage college access, persistence, and attainment; and
  • Enforcement of civil rights laws to ensure equal access to education and technical assistance to help educational institutions safeguard student privacy. 2

Committees of Jurisdiction

Committee jurisdiction is determined by a variety of factors, including rules, agreements, and precedent. Many committees play a role in legislation or oversight of education programs and activities.3 Table 1 lists committees whose jurisdiction aligns with the scope of education policies covered in this report based on language from each committee's website.

Table 1. Committees of Jurisdiction

Committee

Full Committee Jurisdictiona

Education-Related Subcommitteesb

Subcommittee Jurisdiction

House Committees and Subcommittees

House Appropriations

Appropriations measures

Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations

Appropriations for the Department of Education 

 

 

Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations

Appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs

House Budget

Responsible for concurrent budget resolution which establishes congressional priorities for 20 functional categories (including Education, Training, Employment, and Social Services)

No subcommittees

No subcommittees

House Education and the Workforce

Oversees programs that affect all Americans, from early learning and higher education to job training and retirement security

Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education

Education from early learning through the high school level including: elementary and secondary education, special education, homeless education, migrant education, overseas dependent schools, career and technical education, school lunch and child nutrition programs, and early care and education programs including Head Start

 

 

Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development

Education and workforce development beyond the high school level. Includes postsecondary student assistance and employment services, the Higher Education Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, postsecondary career and technical education, science and technology programs and adult basic education (family literacy)

House Science, Space, and Technology

Science scholarships, scientific research, development, projects, and the National Science Foundation

Subcommittee on Research and Technology

Science education, science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, National Science Foundation, university research policy, and science scholarships

House Veterans' Affairs

Veterans' measures generally, including compensation, vocational rehabilitation, and education of veterans

Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity

Education of veterans, employment and training of veterans, vocational rehabilitation, readjustment of service members to civilian life

House Ways and Means

Tax and revenue related issues

Subcommittee on Tax Policy

Tax and revenue related issues

Senate Committees and Subcommittees

Senate Appropriations

Appropriations measures

Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations

Appropriations for the Department of Education

 

 

Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations

Appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs

Senate Budget

Responsible for concurrent budget resolution which establishes congressional priorities for 20 functional categories (including Education, Training, Employment, and Social Services)

No subcommittees

No subcommittees

Senate Finance

Tax and revenue related issues

c

c

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Various issues related to education

Subcommittee on Children and Families

Head Start, child care and child support, and other issues involving children, youth, and families

 

 

Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety

Workforce education and training

Senate Veterans' Affairs

Various issues related to veterans

No subcommittees

No subcommittees

Source: Compiled by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Language describing jurisdiction is excerpted from committee websites for the 115th Congress as of March 7, 2018.

a. More information on committee jurisdiction is given on the committee websites and in House and Senate Rules.

b. The "Subcommittee Jurisdiction" column provides selected education-related jurisdiction information for each subcommittee; see subcommittee websites for full subcommittee jurisdiction information.

c. The Senate Finance committee website did not provide information about subcommittee jurisdiction at the time this table was compiled.

For more information on committees and jurisdiction, see

Federal Agencies

The Department of Education (ED), which was established as an executive department in 1979 through the Department of Education Organization Act (P.L. 96-88), is the federal agency with primary responsibility for administering federal elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education programs.4 It supports the general welfare of the United States by working to ensure equal access to educational opportunity and it supplements the efforts of state, local, and private entities in improving the quality of education. ED's mission is "to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access."5

Other federal agencies are responsible for administering some education programs, such as the Department of Health and Human Services (programs include Head Start), Department of Veterans Affairs (programs include veterans education benefits such as those made available through the GI Bill), and the National Science Foundation (programs include science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education programs).

The following table lists selected education-focused offices in charge of administering federal programs.

Table 2. Selected Federal Education Program Offices

Agency/Office

Purpose

Department of Education

Institute of Education Sciences

Conducts statistics, research, evaluation, and dissemination activities through four centers: The National Center for Education Research, the National Center for Education Statistics, the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, and the National Center for Special Education Research.

Office for Civil Rights

Ensures equal access to education and promotes educational excellence through enforcement of civil rights in schools.

Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

Administers and coordinates programs related to adult education and literacy, career and technical education, and community colleges.

Office of Educational Technology

Develops national educational technology policy.

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Administers programs to assist state and local educational agencies improve access to and achievement of preschool, elementary, and secondary schools.

Office of English Language Acquisition

Provides leadership to help ensure that English Learners and immigrant students attain English proficiency and achieve academic success.

Office of Federal Student Aid

Manages student financial assistance programs that provide grants, loans, and work-study funds to students attending college or career schools.

Office of Innovation and Improvement

Supports efforts to develop, learn from, and scale new and effective approaches to serving highest-need students.

Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development

Oversees planning, evaluation, policy development, and budget activities in the Department.

Office of Postsecondary Education

Administers programs that strengthen the capacity of colleges and universities to promote reform, innovation, and improvement in postsecondary education; promote and expand access to postsecondary education; increase college completion rates; and broaden global competencies.

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Supports programs and provides a wide array of supports that help educate children and youth with disabilities and provides for the rehabilitation of youth and adults with disabilities.

Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families

Office of Head Start

Manages grant funding and provides oversight to local agencies providing Head Start services. Provides federal policy direction and a training and technical assistance system to assist grantees in providing comprehensive services to eligible young children and their families.

Office of Early Childhood Development

Promotes a joint federal approach to improve early childhood education and development. Includes the Offices of Child Care and Head Start, and the Interagency Team.

Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Benefits Administration

Education and Training

Administers VA's education programs that provide education and training benefits to eligible Active Duty, National Guard, and Reserve Servicemembers, Veterans, and dependents.

National Science Foundation

Directorate for Education and Human Resources

Supports the development of STEM education at all levels, in both formal and informal settings, in order to support the development of a diverse and well-prepared workforce of scientists, technicians, engineers, mathematicians, and educators and a well-informed citizenry that have access to the ideas and tools of science and engineering.

Source: Compiled by CRS from the agency websites. Language describing departments is adapted from department websites as of May 29, 2018.

a. In addition to the offices noted in this table, ED has administrative offices for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Educational Technology, and International Affairs.

Budget and Appropriations

Federal law requires the President to submit an annual budget to Congress in February. The budget informs Congress of the President's overall federal fiscal policy based on current law that establishes spending levels, revenues, and deficit (or surplus) levels. In addition to providing an overarching fiscal framework, the budget request also lays out the President's relative priorities for many federal programs. Although the President is not required to propose legislative changes for those parts of the budget that are governed by permanent law, the changes that are proposed are generally included in the budget.6

For more information on budget and appropriations, see

In addition to OMB budget materials, individual agencies issue annual congressional budget justifications. These justifications provide budget information by program for those that are funded through the annual appropriations process as well as narratives that explain the programs and their activities.

Table 3. Selected Education-Related Budget Documents

Agency

Appropriations Bill

Budget Websites and Documents

Department of Education

Labor-HHS-ED

ED Budget Home

ED Budget FY2019 Home

ED FY2019 Budget Justification

ED FY2019 Summary and Background

Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

Labor-HHS-ED

HHS Budget Home

ACF Budget Home

ACF FY2019 Budget Justification

Department of Veterans Affairs

MILCON-VA

VA Budget Home

VA FY2019 Budget in Brief

National Science Foundation (NSF)

CJS

NSF Budget Home

NSF FY2019 Budget Justification

Source: Prepared by CRS from information on agency websites as of February 15, 2018.

Notes: Labor-HHS-ED refers to the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. MILCON-VA refers to the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies bill. CJS refers to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies bill.

Although the President's Budget recommends spending levels, Congress must consider, and, with the President enact, legislation that actually provides that spending. Mandatory spending is controlled through authorizing laws and is considered on an as-needed basis. In contrast, discretionary spending is controlled through an annual process and divided among 12 appropriations bills.7

As part of the process through which the appropriations bills are considered, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will issue reports to accompany the bills. These reports typically include additional direction to the agencies on congressional priorities and concerns. The following are selected CRS resources on the appropriations process, the status of appropriations acts, and on several funding concepts, some of which are somewhat distinctive to education programs:

Spending and Costs

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in 2015-2016, the United States spent an estimated $1.25 trillion on education at all levels (from prekindergarten through graduate school), most of which was from state, local, and private sources. Of this, $707 billion was spent on elementary and secondary education and $548 billion on degree-granting postsecondary institutions. Expenditures for education were estimated at 7% of gross domestic product.8

NCES also estimates that the federal government directly provided $188.9 billion in budget authority for education in FY2016. This includes support for elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, research at educational institutions, and other educational institutions such as libraries and museums, as well as support for cultural activities and miscellaneous research. If off-budget support (such as the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program) and nonfederal funds generated by federal legislation (such as other federal student aid, including Perkins Loans and work-study aid) are included, the amount was $284.7 billion.9

For more information on education spending and costs, see the following:

Federal Support for Early Childhood Education Programs and Services

Head Start

Overview

Head Start is a federal program that has provided comprehensive early childhood development services to low-income children and their families since 1965. The comprehensive nature of the program includes educational, health, nutritional, and social services. These services are intended to prepare children to enter kindergarten and to improve the conditions necessary for their success in later school and life. Most children served in Head Start programs are three- and four-year olds, but in 1994 legislation expanded Head Start to include an Early Head Start program, which serves children from birth to three years of age.

Head Start is administered by the Office of Head Start within the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which provides grants directly from the federal government to local entities (as opposed to providing funding through states). These entities may be public or private agencies, nonprofit or for-profit, faith-based or secular. Currently, roughly 1,600 agencies receive Head Start grants. Flexibility in local program design and operation is encouraged within a framework of federal performance standards, and there is variation across the country in how Head Start and Early Head Start services are delivered.

The Head Start Act was last reauthorized through the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-134), which authorized appropriations for the program through the end of FY2012. Funding for Head Start has been sustained through annual appropriations bills.10

Laws

The principal federal law related to Head Start is the Head Start Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. §§9831-9852c).

Regulations

Most federal regulations related to Head Start (and Early Head Start) appear in Title 45, Chapter XIII, Subchapter B of the Code of Federal Regulations (45 C.F.R. §§1301.1-1305.2).

In addition to federal laws and regulations, the Office of Head Start issues program guidance through information memoranda and program instructions.

More Information

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Overview

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the main federal statute governing special education and early intervention services for children from birth through age 21. While the majority of IDEA funding goes to school-age children via grants to states, IDEA also authorizes two state grant programs for young children: IDEA Part C serves infants and toddlers with disabilities and IDEA Part B Section 619 serves preschool-aged children with disabilities.

The Part C Infants and Families Program serves children with disabilities from birth through two years of age. To receive a Part C grant, states must create and maintain a "statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary, interagency system that provides early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families."11 Part C services focus on children experiencing developmental delay with respect to physical, mental, or other capacities, as well as the families of such children. Part C early intervention services are designed to ensure that all infants and toddlers with developmental delays are identified and evaluated. Once a child is evaluated and found to be eligible for services due to a disability or developmental delay, an individualized family services plan is tailored to the unique needs of the child and the child's family. Early intervention services are to be provided, to the maximum extent feasible, in "natural environments,"12 including the child's home, and with other infants and toddlers who are not disabled.

IDEA Part B authorizes services to school-aged children with disabilities as young as age three. States receiving IDEA Part B state grants are eligible for additional Section 619 Preschool Grants if they offer free appropriate public education to all children with disabilities aged three to five within the state. (That is to say, Section 619 is not so much a separate program as it is a supplemental funding stream for children in the preschool age group.) In recent years, all states have qualified for and received preschool grants under this section. In general, the provisions, requirements, and guarantees under the Part B state grants program for school-aged children also apply to Section 619 preschool-aged children.

The most recent reauthorization of IDEA was P.L. 108-446 in 2004. Funding for Part B is permanently authorized. Funding for Part C was authorized through FY2011, although funding has been sustained through annual appropriations bills.13

Laws

IDEA Part B Section 619 is codified in the U.S. Code at 20 U.S.C. §1419. IDEA Part C is codified at 20 U.S.C. §§1431-1444.

Regulations

Most federal regulations related to IDEA Part B, Section 619 appear in Title 34, Chapter III, Part 300, Subpart H of the Code of Federal Regulations (34 C.F.R. §§300.800-300.818).

Most regulations related to IDEA Part C appear in Title 34, Chapter III, Part 303 of the Code of Federal Regulations (34 C.F.R. §303.1 et seq.).

More Information

Preschool Development Grants Program

Overview

The Preschool Development Grants (PDG) program is a discretionary grant program based at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) but jointly administered by HHS and the Department of Education (ED). The program was established by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-95), which authorized $250 million for the program for each of FY2017 through FY2020. The PDG program is designed to strengthen state and local efforts to build, develop and expand high-quality preschool programs so that more children from low- and moderate-income families enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school. The focus is on improving coordination, collaboration, and alignment of existing federal, state, local, and non-governmental early childhood programs. The current PDG program grew out of two prior grant programs focused on early learning, the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grants, which were funded in FY2011-FY2013, and another Preschool Development Grants program, which was funded in FY2014-FY2016.14

Laws

The Preschool Development Grants program was authorized by Section 9212 of the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-95), codified in the U.S. Code at 42 U.S.C. §9831 note.

Regulations

There are no regulations specific to the Preschool Development Grants program.

More Information

Federal Support for Elementary and Secondary Education: Broad Formula Grant Programs

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Overview

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) was enacted in 1965 (P.L. 89-10). It has been amended and extended 13 times, most recently by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA; P.L. 114-95) in 2015. Title I-A, the largest ESEA program, provides compensatory grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) to fund educational and related services for low-achieving and other students attending elementary and secondary schools with relatively high concentrations of students from low-income families. These funds can be used to support a broad array of programs and services in schools. Receipt of Title I-A funds is conditioned upon acceptance of certain educational accountability requirements (e.g., standards and assessments) affecting broad aspects of public elementary and secondary education for all students.

Other major ESEA programs provide grants to support rural schools; the education of migrant students; recruitment of and professional development for teachers; instruction for English language learners; expansion of charter schools and magnet schools; education services for Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native students; and Impact Aid to compensate LEAs for foregone tax revenue due to the presence of certain federal activities. Appropriations are authorized to be provided for the ESEA through FY2020.15

Laws

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act is codified in the U.S. Code at 20 U.S.C. §§6301-7981.

Regulations

Most federal regulations related to elementary and secondary education appear in Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations (34 C.F.R. Part 200).

More Information

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Overview

The IDEA provides federal funding for the education of children with disabilities and, for states that accept these funds, sets out principles under which special education and related services are to be provided. The IDEA consists of four parts. IDEA Part B, Assistance for Education of all Children with Disabilities, authorizes grant programs that support special education for children and youth with disabilities between the ages of 3 and 21. Within Part B, the Section 611 grants-to-states program receives the largest share of IDEA funding―approximately 95% of total IDEA appropriations. (A much smaller part of IDEA Part B is Section 619, discussed above, which funds services for preschool-aged children with disabilities.) School districts in states participating in the Section 611 program must identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disability, to determine which children are eligible for special education and related services. Each child receiving services must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) delineating the specific special education and related services to be provided to meet his or her needs. The statute also contains procedural safeguards, which are provisions to protect the rights of children with disabilities and their parents.

The other three parts of IDEA are Part A, which contains general provisions; Part C (also discussed above), which authorizes state grants for programs serving infants and toddlers with disabilities; and Part D, which contains the requirements for various national activities designed to improve the education of children with disabilities.

The most recent reauthorization of IDEA was P.L. 108-446 in 2004. Funding for Part B is permanently authorized.16

Laws

IDEA Part B is codified in the U.S. Code at 20 U.S.C. §§1411-1419.

Regulations

Most federal regulations related to IDEA Part B appear in Title 34, Chapter III, Part 300, Subparts A-G of the Code of Federal Regulations (34 C.F.R. §§300.1-300.718).

More Information

Federal Support for Postsecondary Education: Student Financial Assistance

Higher Education Act

Overview

Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA; P.L. 89-329) authorizes the federal government's major student aid programs, which are the primary source of direct federal support to students pursuing postsecondary education. These programs include the following:

  • The Federal Pell Grant program, which provides need-based grants to undergraduate students;
  • Campus-based programs, such as the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), which provide federal funding to institutions of higher education (IHEs) for need-based financial aid for students; and
  • The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program, the nation's primary source of student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.

In addition, the HEA authorizes programs providing services and support for less-advantaged students, students pursuing international education, and students pursuing certain graduate and professional degrees.

The HEA was last comprehensively reauthorized in 2008 by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA; P.L. 110-315), which authorized appropriations for most HEA programs through FY2014. Following the passage of the HEOA, the SAFRA Act, as part of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HCERA; P.L. 111-152), made several notable changes to the HEA. Authorization for the appropriations for many HEA programs expired at the end of 2014 and was automatically extended through the end of FY2015 under Section 422 of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA).17 Additionally, Congress and the President provided appropriations beyond 2015 under a variety of appropriations laws, including continuing resolutions.18

Laws

Higher education student financial aid programs are authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (20 U.S.C. §§1070-1099).

Regulations

Most higher education student financial aid program regulations are in Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations (34 C.F.R. §§600-694).

More Information

Higher Education Tax Benefits

Overview

Education tax benefits are an increasingly important component of federal higher education policy. The available tax benefits are a mixture of credits, deductions, exclusions, and other incentives. The benefits can be placed into one of three general categories: incentives for current year expenses, preferential tax treatment of student loans, and incentives for saving for college. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimates the cost to the federal government of education tax benefits—the revenue foregone from offering these benefits—to be $165 billion between 2016 and 2020. (These estimates do not account for recent tax law changes made by P.L. 115-97 or the extension of certain expiring tax provisions by P.L. 115-123.)19

In 2017, 14 tax benefits were available for college students and their parents to help pay for higher education.

Tax benefits that provide incentives for current year expenses include

  • American Opportunity Credit
  • Lifetime Learning Credit
  • Business Deduction for Work Related Education Expenses
  • Exclusion of Scholarships, Grants, and Tuition Reductions
  • Exclusion of Employer Provided Educational Assistance
  • Parental Personal Exemption for Dependent Students 19-23 Years Old
  • Tuition and Fees Above-the-Line Deduction20

Tax benefits that provide preferential tax treatment of student loans include

  • Student Loan Interest Deduction
  • Exclusion of Qualifying Cancelled Student Loans

Tax benefits that provide incentives for saving for college include

  • Qualified Tuition Programs (529 Plans)
  • Coverdell Education Savings Account
  • Exclusion of Interest on Education Savings Bonds
  • Early Withdrawals from IRAs
  • Uniform Transfers to Minors

At the end of 2017, President Trump signed into law P.L. 115-97,21 which made numerous changes to the federal income tax for individuals and businesses. P.L. 115-97 changed three education tax benefits: 529 plans, the tax treatment of discharged student loan debt, and personal exemptions for college-age dependents. With respect to 529 plans, P.L. 115-97 permanently allows up to $10,000 to be withdrawn tax-free per beneficiary per year and be used for tuition expenses at public, private, and parochial schools. With respect to the exclusion of certain discharged student loan debt, the law temporarily expands the categories of non-taxable discharged student loan debt to include student loan debt that is discharged on account of the death or permanent disability of the student. This change is in effect from 2018 through the end of 2025. The law also temporarily suspends personal exemptions. Hence, from 2018 to 2025 taxpayers cannot claim a personal exemption for their college-age dependents. All else being equal, this will increase the taxpayer's taxable income. However, the ultimate impact on their tax bill will depend on each taxpayer's particular circumstances. Other education tax benefits for individuals were unchanged from prior law.

Other non-education changes in the tax law made by P.L. 115-97 could indirectly impact the value of some education tax benefits for certain taxpayers. For example, insofar as the law lowers a taxpayer's income tax liability, the taxpayer may also receive a smaller Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) because, as a non-refundable credit, the final value cannot exceed an individual's income tax liability.22

Laws

Most education tax laws can be found in Title 26 of the United States Code.

Regulations

Most education tax regulations can be found in Title 26 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

More Information

GI Bills

Overview

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been providing veterans educational assistance (GI Bill) benefits since 1944. The benefits have been intended, at various times, to compensate for compulsory service, encourage voluntary service, prevent unemployment, provide equitable benefits to all who served, and promote military retention. In general, the benefits provide grant aid, which may defray costs for tuition and fees, housing, and books and supplies, to eligible individuals enrolled in approved educational and training programs. The most recent GI Bill was enacted on June 30, 2008, as the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (Post-9/11 GI Bill), Title V of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 (P.L. 110-252). Although the VA still provides benefits under several older GI Bills, participation and spending for the Post-9/11 GI Bill has represented approximately 80% or more of total GI Bill participation and spending in each year since FY2013.

GI Bills enacted prior to 2008 include the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program (DEA), Montgomery GI Bill―Active Duty (MGIB-AD), Montgomery GI Bill―Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR), the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP), and the Post-Vietnam Era Educational Assistance Program (VEAP).23

Laws

Most laws related to GI Bill benefits are in Title 38, Part III of the United States Code.

Regulations

Most regulations related to Veterans Affairs educational programs are in Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations (38 C.F.R. Part 21).

More Information

Federal Support for Postsecondary Education: Support for Institutions of Higher Education

Higher Education Act

Overview

Titles II, III, V, VI, and VII of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA; P.L. 89-329) authorize numerous federal aid programs that provide support to institutions of higher education (IHEs) to support institutional development and enhance IHEs' ability to offer specified programs and services. Title II authorizes grants for improving teacher education programs, strengthening teacher recruitment efforts, and providing training for prospective teachers. Most of the programs authorized in Title III provide grants or other financial support to institutions that serve high concentrations of minorities and students with financial need to help strengthen institutions' academic, financial, and administrative capabilities. Title V provides sources of institutional support to Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs). Typically, the institutions served by Title III and Title V are called minority serving institutions (MSIs). In general, Title V programs are similar in scope to several of the Title III programs authorized to support other types of MSIs. Title VI authorizes a variety of grants to IHEs and related entities to enhance instruction in foreign language and area and international studies. Title VII authorizes several programs related to supporting graduate education programs. Other programs authorized under Title VII include programs that encourage innovation in postsecondary education, enable IHEs to better serve students with disabilities, support state-level postsecondary education improvements, and establish new programs.

Title VIII includes 27 parts, each of which establishes one or more programs focusing on an array of postsecondary education topics. All of the programs in Title VIII were newly added to the HEA by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA; P.L. 110-315). Most of these programs have never been funded.

The HEA was last comprehensively reauthorized in 2008 by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA; P.L. 110-315), which authorized appropriations for most HEA programs through FY2014. Following the passage of the HEOA, the SAFRA Act, as part of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HCERA, P.L. 111-152), made several notable changes to the HEA. Authorization for the appropriations for many HEA programs expired at the end of FY2014 and was automatically extended through the end of FY2015 under Section 422 of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA).24 Additionally, Congress and the President provided appropriations beyond 2015 under a variety of appropriations laws, including continuing resolutions.25

Laws

Most laws related to higher education institutions are in Title 20 of the United States Code (20 U.S.C. §§1021-1068h; 20 U.S.C. §§1101-1161i-7).

Regulations

Most regulations related to higher education institutions are in Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations (34 C.F.R. Part 600 et seq.).

More Information

Federal Support for Targeted Elementary, Secondary, and Postsecondary Education Programs of Study

Perkins Act

Overview

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV; P.L. 109-270) is the primary federal law supporting career and technical education (CTE) services offered within the states at the secondary and postsecondary education levels. CTE, which has historically also been known as vocational education, comprises organized educational activities that provide individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to prepare for the labor market in general and for careers in current or emerging professions in particular. The largest program authorized by Perkins IV is the Basic State Grants program, which distributes formula grants to states to develop and operate CTE programs.26

Appropriations for Perkins IV programs and activities were authorized through FY2012 and automatically extended through FY2013 by the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA).27 Subsequently, funding for Perkins CTE programs has been sustained through annual appropriations laws.

Laws

The principal federal law related to career and technical education is the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV) (20 U.S.C. §§2301-2414).

Regulations

Most Career and Technical Education regulations are in Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations (34 C.F.R. §§400-460).

More information

STEM Programs

Overview

The term STEM education refers to teaching and learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It typically includes educational activities across all grade levels—from pre-school to post-doctorate—in both formal (e.g., classrooms) and informal (e.g., afterschool programs) settings. Federal policy makers have had an active and enduring interest in STEM education, and the topic is frequently raised in federal science, education, workforce, national security, and immigration policy debates.

Various attempts to assess the federal STEM education effort have produced different estimates of its scope and scale. Analysts have identified between 105 and 252 STEM education programs and activities at 13 to 15 federal agencies. Annual federal appropriations for STEM education are typically in the range of $2.8 billion to $3.4 billion. Published inventories generally identify the Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Health and Human Services as key agencies in the federal effort. Over half of federal STEM education funding is intended to serve the needs of postsecondary schools and students; the remainder goes to efforts at the kindergarten-through-Grade 12 level. Much of the funding for post-secondary students is in the form of financial aid, including fellowships and grants.

The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, functions as the executive branch agency coordinating science and technology policy across the federal research and development landscape. NSTC's Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM) was established in 2011; its purpose is to coordinate federal programs and activities in support of STEM education. In 2013, CoSTEM published a five-year strategic plan that identified five priority investment areas for the federal government's effort in STEM education.

Laws

As STEM education activities are spread throughout the federal government, laws concerning STEM education are not codified in any one place in the U.S. Code.

Regulations

As with STEM laws, STEM regulations are not codified in any one place in the Code of Federal Regulations.

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Federal Support for Adult Education Programs

Adult Education and Family Literacy Act

Overview

The Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) is the primary federal legislation that supports basic education for adults and out-of-school youth ages 16 and older. Under the authorization of AEFLA, the federal government makes grants to states to support services to improve literacy and other basic skills among adults who are not enrolled in school. Commonly called adult education, the activities funded by AEFLA provide educational services to adults at the secondary level and below, as well as English language training.28

AEFLA-supported adult education services are typically provided by local entities. Students include those seeking to develop basic skills, those seeking to obtain a secondary credential, and English language learners of various educational backgrounds. Curricula and other programmatic details vary based on local student needs and objectives. AEFLA programs are administered at the federal level by the U.S. Department of Education through its Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education.29 States distribute funds to eligible local providers including: local educational agencies, community based organizations, faith based organizations, volunteer literacy organizations, institutions of higher education, and other public or private nonprofit entities.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, P.L. 113-128, Title II, authorized appropriations for AEFLA through FY2020.

Laws

Adult education programs are authorized by Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) (29 U.S.C. §§3271-3333).

Regulations

Most regulations related to adult education are in Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations (34 C.F.R. §§461-463).

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Federal Role in Education Research and Statistics

Overview

Efforts to gather statistics on the condition and progress of education date back to 1867 (P.L. 39-73),30 and a coordinated national educational research and development effort began to take shape with the creation of the National Institute of Education in 1974 (P.L. 93-380). The Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (ESRA; Title I of P.L. 107-279) substantially revised federal research and statistics programs. It established the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) as an independent research arm of the Department of Education.

The IES consists of four research centers:

  • The National Center for Education Research (NCER) sponsors research leading to the accumulation of knowledge and understanding of education.
  • The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) collects and analyzes education information and statistics in a manner that meets the highest methodological standards.
  • The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) supports evaluation, technical assistance, development, and dissemination activities.
  • The National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) sponsors research to expand knowledge and understanding of the needs of infants, toddlers, and children with disabilities.

The Educational Technical Assistance Act (ETAA; Title II of P.L. 107-279) authorizes the Secretary of Education to make grants to states for statewide longitudinal data systems. The National Assessment of Educational Progress Authorization Act (NAEPAA; Title III of P.L. 107-279) authorizes national, state, and long-term assessments in reading and mathematics. These assessments are collectively referred to as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The authorizations of appropriations for the programs authorized under ESRA, ETAA, and NAEPAA have expired; however, funding for these programs continues to be provided through annual appropriations laws.31

Laws

The Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 is codified in the U.S. Code at 20 U.S.C. §§9501-9584. The Educational Technical Assistance Act is codified in the U.S. Code at 20 U.S.C. §§9601-9608. The National Assessment of Educational Progress Authorization Act is codified in the U.S. Code at 20 U.S.C. §§9623-9624.

Regulations

Most regulations related to educational research and statistics can be found in Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations (34 C.F.R. Parts 700-702).

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Federal Role in Enforcing Education-Related Civil Rights and Education Privacy

Overview

The Department of Education is also charged with enforcing various civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in all programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance (unless otherwise noted). These include Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin), Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities receiving federal funds), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (prohibits discrimination based on disability), the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (prohibits discrimination based on age), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (prohibits discrimination based on disability by public entities).

The Department of Education also enforces two laws that protect student privacy rights: (1) the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA; P.L. 93-380 §513), which guarantees parental access to student education records while limiting the disclosure of those records to third parties; and (2) the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), which gives parents certain rights regarding the collection of student data.32

Laws

Civil rights laws are codified in the U.S. Code at

  • 42 U.S.C. §2000d (Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI)
  • 20 U.S.C. §§1681 et seq. (Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX)
  • 29 U.S.C. §§791, 793-94 (Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504)
  • 42 U.S.C. §§6101 et seq. (Age Discrimination Act of 1975)
  • 42 U.S.C. §§12101 et seq. (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Title II)

Privacy rights laws are codified in the U.S. Code at

  • 20 U.S.C. 1232g (FERPA)
  • 20 U.S.C. 1232h (PPRA)

Regulations

The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights regulations are in Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations (34 C.F.R. Part 100). Most FERPA and PPRA regulations are in Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations (34 C.F.R. Part 99).

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Appendix. Elementary and Secondary Education: State and Local Educational Agencies

In the United States, primary responsibility for elementary and secondary education falls to state and local education agencies. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended, defines a "state educational agency" (SEA) as "the sole educational agency for all public schools."33 In some states, this may be the state department of education; in others, it could be the state board of education. In either case, the SEA is generally responsible for setting statewide curriculum standards, establishing high school graduation requirements, determining qualifications for professional education personnel, establishing state accountability and assessment programs, establishing standards for accreditation of local school districts and preparation programs for teachers and administrators, implementing and administering federal programs, and developing rules and regulations for the administration of state programs.34

More information on SEAs:

As defined in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the term local educational agency (LEA) means "a public board of education or other public authority legally constituted within a State for either administrative control or direction of, or to perform a service function for, public elementary schools or secondary schools in a city, county, township, school district, or other political subdivision of a State, or of or for a combination of school districts or counties that is recognized in a State as an administrative agency for its public elementary schools or secondary schools."35

LEAs are generally responsible for establishing and maintaining the organizational structure for the local school system, developing curriculum, meeting federal and state mandates, appointing key members of the central office, and adopting an annual budget.36

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has the following resources on LEAs:

Author Contact Information

[author name scrubbed], Coordinator, Senior Research Librarian ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])
[author name scrubbed], Senior Research Librarian ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])
[author name scrubbed], Senior Research Librarian ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])

Footnotes

1.

See Appendix on Elementary and Secondary Education: State and Local Agencies.

2.

This section was adapted from CRS In Focus IF10551, A Summary of Federal Education Laws Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, by [author name scrubbed], [author name scrubbed], and [author name scrubbed].

3.

According to CRS Report RS20544, The Office of the Parliamentarian in the House and Senate, by [author name scrubbed], the House and Senate Parliamentarians "recommend the referral of most measures to committee, acting on behalf of the Speaker of the House or the presiding officer of the Senate. They refer measures on the basis of House and Senate rules and precedents that define committee jurisdictions."

4.

The first Department of Education was established in 1867 and was made the Office of Education the following year. Over the years, the Office of Education operated under different titles and was housed in various agencies. See "Department's History" at https://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/focus/what.html.

5.

Department of Education, Overview and Mission Statement, February 15, 2018, at https://www2.ed.gov/about/landing.jhtml?src=ft. This section was adapted from CRS In Focus IF10551, A Summary of Federal Education Laws Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, by [author name scrubbed], [author name scrubbed], and [author name scrubbed].

6.

This section was adapted from CRS Report 98-721, Introduction to the Federal Budget Process, coordinated by [author name scrubbed].

7.

For further information, see CRS Report R44582, Overview of Funding Mechanisms in the Federal Budget Process, and Selected Examples, by [author name scrubbed].

8.

Table 106.10. Expenditures of educational institutions related to the gross domestic product, by level of institution: Selected years, 1929-30 through 2015-16. Digest of Education Statistics: 2016. National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC.

9.

This section was adapted from CRS Report R44477, Department of Education Funding: Key Concepts and FAQ, by [author name scrubbed] and [author name scrubbed], and National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 2016, "Table 401.10. Federal support and estimated federal tax expenditures for education, by category: Selected fiscal years, 1965 through 2016." As the CRS Report notes, how much the federal government spends on education "depends on what federal accounts or activities are defined as "education spending," on the fiscal year, on the point in the fiscal year when budget authority is estimated, and which federal agency is reporting. Any aggregation of federal funding provided for educational purposes across agencies or accounts requires judgments about which activities should be counted (in whole or in part) and about how such activities should be grouped (e.g., higher education, K-12, etc.). Moreover, any such exercise may be limited by the granularity of information available about the use of the funds. Complicating the situation is the fact that federal funding for education overlaps with (but is not the same as) funding for ED."

10.

This overview was adapted from CRS Report RL30952, Head Start: Background and Funding, by [author name scrubbed].

11.

20 U.S.C. 1431 (b)(1), P.L. 108-446.

12.

Natural environments are defined in the Part C regulations as "settings that are natural or typical for a same-aged infant or toddler without a disability, may include the home or community settings, and must be consistent with [other Part C provisions regarding natural environments]." (34 C.F.R. §303.26)

13.

This overview was adapted from CRS Report R43631, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part C: Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities, by [author name scrubbed], and CRS Report R41833, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B: Key Statutory and Regulatory Provisions, by [author name scrubbed].

14.

This overview was adapted from CRS Report R40212, Early Childhood Care and Education Programs: Background and Funding, by [author name scrubbed], and CRS Report R44008, Preschool Development Grants (FY2014-FY2016) and Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grants (FY2011-FY2013), by [author name scrubbed]. The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grants were focused on building comprehensive statewide systems to support high-quality early learning and development programs, as well as increasing access to these programs for high-need children. Funding was appropriated to ED, but ED and HHS jointly awarded grants to 20 states over the three years the grants received funding. The first Preschool Development Grants program was intended to expand access to high-quality preschool for low- and moderate-income four-year-olds by supporting state and local efforts to build, develop and expand high quality preschool programs. Funding for this program was also appropriated to ED, but ED and HHS jointly awarded grants to 18 states over the three years the grants received funding.

15.

This overview was adapted from CRS In Focus IF10551, A Summary of Federal Education Laws Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, by [author name scrubbed], [author name scrubbed], and [author name scrubbed].

16.

This overview was adapted from CRS Report R44624, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Funding: A Primer, by [author name scrubbed].

17.

GEPA contains a broad array of statutory provisions that are applicable to the majority of federal education programs administered by the Department of Education. 20 U.S.C. §1221 et seq. For additional information on GEPA, see archived CRS Report R41119, General Education Provisions Act (GEPA): Overview and Issues, by [author name scrubbed] and [author name scrubbed].

18.

This overview was adapted from CRS Report R43351, The Higher Education Act (HEA): A Primer, by [author name scrubbed].

19.

Joint Committee on Taxation, Estimates of Federal Tax Expenditures for Fiscal Years 2016-2020, January 30, 2017, JCX-3-17 and Joint Committee on Taxation, Estimated Budget Effects of the Revenue Provisions Contained in the "Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018," February 8, 2018, JCX-4-18.

20.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA; P.L. 115-123) extended the tuition and fees deduction retroactively for 2017.

21.

The original title of the law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, was stricken before final passage because it violated what is known as the Byrd rule, a procedural rule that can be raised when bills, like the tax bill, are considered under the process of reconciliation. The actual title of the law is "To provide for reconciliations pursuant to Titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018." For more information on the Byrd rule, see CRS Report RL30862, The Budget Reconciliation Process: The Senate's "Byrd Rule", by [author name scrubbed]

22.

This overview was adapted from CRS Report R41967, Higher Education Tax Benefits: Brief Overview and Budgetary Effects, by [author name scrubbed]. For more information on the changes made to the tax code by P.L. 115-97, see CRS Report R45092, The 2017 Tax Revision (P.L. 115-97): Comparison to 2017 Tax Law, coordinated by [author name scrubbed] and [author name scrubbed].

23.

This overview was adapted from CRS Report R42755, The Post-9/11 Veterans' Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (Post-9/11 GI Bill): A Primer, by [author name scrubbed], and CRS Report R42785, GI Bills Enacted Prior to 2008 and Related Veterans' Educational Assistance Programs: A Primer, by [author name scrubbed].

24.

GEPA contains a broad array of statutory provisions that are applicable to the majority of federal education programs administered by the Department of Education. 20 U.S.C. §1221 et seq. For additional information on GEPA see archived CRS Report R41119, General Education Provisions Act (GEPA): Overview and Issues, by [author name scrubbed] and [author name scrubbed].

25.

This overview was adapted from CRS Report R43351, The Higher Education Act (HEA): A Primer, by [author name scrubbed].

26.

This overview was adapted from CRS Report R44861, Reauthorization of the Perkins Act in the 115th Congress: Comparison of Current Law and H.R. 2353, by [author name scrubbed], and CRS Report R44542, Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006: An Overview, by [author name scrubbed].

27.

GEPA contains a broad array of statutory provisions that are applicable to the majority of federal education programs administered by the Department of Education. 20 U.S.C. §1221 et seq. For additional information on GEPA, see archived CRS Report R41119, General Education Provisions Act (GEPA): Overview and Issues, by [author name scrubbed] and [author name scrubbed].

28.

This overview was adapted from CRS Report R43789, Adult Education and Family Literacy Act: Major Statutory Provisions, by [author name scrubbed], and CRS Report R44252, The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and the One-Stop Delivery System, by [author name scrubbed].

29.

Ibid.

30.

P.L. 39-73, An Act to establish a Department of Education. Note that this was not the current Department of Education, which was established in 1979. See "Department's History" at https://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/focus/what.html.

31.

This overview was adapted from CRS In Focus IF10551, A Summary of Federal Education Laws Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, by [author name scrubbed], [author name scrubbed], and [author name scrubbed], and CRS Report R43398, The Education Sciences Reform Act, by [author name scrubbed] and [author name scrubbed].

32.

This overview is adapted from CRS In Focus IF10551, A Summary of Federal Education Laws Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, by [author name scrubbed], [author name scrubbed], and [author name scrubbed].

33.

20 U.S.C. §7801.

34.

Adapted from National Association of State Boards of Education, About the State Boards of Education, February 15, 2018, at http://www.nasbe.org/about-us/state-boards-of-education/.

35.

20 U.S.C. §7801.

36.

Beckham, Joseph and Barbara Klaymeier Wills, "Duties, Responsibilities, Decision-Making, and Legal Basis for Local School Board Powers" in Encyclopedia of Education, Second Edition. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2003, pp. 2112-2117.