U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Summary — May 7, 2009

America will not remain true to its highest ideals—and America's place as a global economic leader will be put at risk...if we don't do a far better job than we've been doing of educating our sons and daughters; unless we give them the knowledge and skills they need in this new and changing world.

President Barack Obama
March 10, 2009

Section I. Summary of the 2010 Budget

In the six months since winning election as America's 44th President, Barack Obama has sent the strongest possible signal that improving our education system will be one of the highest priorities of his Administration. Even before taking office, the President worked to ensure that the economic stimulus package he crafted in cooperation with the Congressional leadership would not only help to save jobs and jump-start a stalled economy, but also begin laying the foundation for America's long-term prosperity by making large investments in critical areas of our education system.

As a result of these efforts, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, or Recovery Act), which President Obama signed into law on February 17, 2009, provided a total of $98.2 billion in funding for the Department of Education, creating an unprecedented opportunity for States and school districts to make significant changes to strengthen and improve all levels of education.

This table shows funding for Education Department Programs under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

One month later, the President outlined five pillars for reforming our schools that are guiding both the implementation of the Recovery Act and the President's fiscal year 2010 budget request for the Department of Education:

First, investing in early childhood education and expanding access to quality childcare.

Second, challenging States to adopt world-class college- and career-ready academic standards and assessments.

Third, recruiting, preparing, and rewarding effective teachers.

Fourth, promoting innovation and excellence in America's schools by expanding charter schools, extending learning time, and turning around low-performing schools.

And fifth, increasing the number of people pursuing higher education and earning a postsecondary degree or certificate.

To build on the historic levels of support provided for these goals in the Recovery Act, the President is requesting $46.7 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Education, an increase of $1.3 billion over the comparable discretionary total provided in the regular 2009 appropriations act. In addition, the President's mandatory funding proposals would help make available more than $129 billion in new grants, loans, and work-study assistance for postsecondary students in 2010, an increase of $31.7 billion, or 32 percent, over the 2008 level.

The 2010 request is focused on laying the foundation for the expansion of early childhood education as part of the President's comprehensive Zero-to-Five initiative; vigorously supporting and rewarding effective teaching; expanding State and local efforts to turn around low-performing schools, including the so-called high school "dropout factories" that graduate 60 percent or fewer of their students; and expanding opportunities for students to go to college and graduate by increasing grant and loan assistance, shifting resources from banks and middlemen toward students, and creating new incentives for colleges to focus on student completion.

Key proposals in the 2010 budget include the following:

The 2010 request for the Department of Education supports these priorities while also proposing significant mandatory and discretionary savings that are essential to meeting the President's goal of cutting the annual Federal deficit in half over the next 5 years. For example, the discretionary request includes the proposed elimination of 12 programs for a total savings of $551 million. In addition, the request eliminates 700 earmarked projects totaling an estimated $182 million. On the mandatory side, the request would save an estimated $24.3 billion over 5 years by making all new postsecondary student loans through the Direct Loans program and by restructuring the Perkins Loans program.

Comparable Department of Education Appropriations
(in billions of dollars)

  2008 2009 2010
(w/o Pell Grants)
$45.0 $45.4 $46.7
Pell Grants
(Mandatory only in 2010)
14.2 25.4 28.7
Recovery Act Funds(Non-Pell Discretionary) 81.1
Other Mandatory 8.1 -11.3 -16.9



Most education funding is discretionary and is appropriated annually for each program within the limits established by authorizing legislation. Mandatory funding does not require annual appropriations because the authorizing legislation itself establishes a fixed funding level or a method for calculating automatic appropriations without further Congressional action. The largest mandatory programs in the Department's budget are Federally subsidized loans for postsecondary students, the costs of which are estimated based on assumptions about interest rates, lender fees, repayments, defaults, and collections. Other education programs funded in whole or in part through mandatory appropriations include Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants, Academic Competitiveness/SMART Grants, Pell Grants, and certain programs in the Higher Education account.

An additional factor affecting the display of discretionary appropriations in Federal budget documents is the use of "advance" appropriations, a method of funding that makes budget authority available in the fiscal year after it is appropriated. Examples of Department programs that receive advance appropriations include Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies and IDEA Part B Grants to States.

Federal funding makes up about 7.8 percent of the estimated $667 billion that America will spend on elementary and secondary education during the 2008-09 school year. The relatively small size of the Federal investment in education dictates an emphasis on supporting promising, research-based programs that have the potential to leverage more effectively the much larger State and local share of national education spending to bring about real improvement in student achievement. This is why a key goal of the 2010 request is to "scale up success" by identifying and replicating successful models and strategies that raise student achievement.

Major proposals in the 2010 request for the Department of Education include the following:


Decades of research show definitively that investment in high-quality early childhood education and services reaps outsized gains in higher student achievement once students enter school, and in improved high school graduation and college attendance rates, reduced unemployment, and increased lifetime earnings. This is why President Obama has put such strong emphasis on developing and implementing a comprehensive Zero-to- Five initiative to expand access to quality childcare and education. A key goal of this initiative is to improve readiness for school, particularly in the area of early literacy and reading skills. The following items in the 2010 request support improved early childhood education:


President Obama believes strongly that "America's future depends on its teachers." This is why the Recovery Act provided billions of dollars to States and school districts to keep teachers working and avoid layoffs during the current economic downturn. However, the Recovery Act not only will save teaching jobs, but provide incentives and resources for States to improve their collection of data on teacher effectiveness and develop plans to ensure that teaching talent is more evenly distributed, and that poor and minority students are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of- field teachers. The 2010 request supports these same goals by calling for:


The school improvement requirements of Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (the Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies program) have helped States and school districts identify and begin to address the needs of low-performing schools. In general, these are schools that are not meeting State proficiency targets, are not preparing their students for success in college or a career, and too often fail to graduate large numbers of their students. The 2010 request would help intensify efforts to turn around these struggling schools—which typically are identified for Title I improvement, corrective action, or restructuring actions—by expanding State and local efforts to identify and adopt effective turn-around strategies. In addition, the Budget would support the continued expansion of charter schools, both as a public school choice option for students in low-performing schools and as a promising alternative governance option for schools in restructuring status.


The State accountability systems required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act are based on accountability not just for the overall performance of all students in a school, but also for the achievement of minority subgroups, including students from low- income families, students with disabilities and English language learners. The 2010 request provides significant resources to help ensure that States, school districts, and schools can meet the academic and other needs of such students and help them reach the same proficiency goals as other students.


The President's 2010 Budget includes four major proposals, previously announced in the February 2010 President's Budget Overview, to streamline and simplify Federal student aid programs, save taxpayer dollars, and significantly increase available student financial assistance so that more students are able not only to enter a postsecondary institution but also to earn a degree or certificate. These proposals are essential to reaching President Obama's goal of restoring America to number one in the percentage of citizens holding college degrees. Today, roughly 40 percent of 25-34 year-old Americans hold college degrees; the President's goal is to raise that to 60 percent.

Under the 2010 request, the Department of Education would administer over $129 billion in new grants, loans, and work-study assistance in 2010—a 32 percent increase over the amount available in 2008—to help more than 14 million students and their families pay for college.


In addition to student financial assistance, the 2010 request supports a variety of activities designed to improve access to, and success in, postsecondary education.


Table of contents  Recovery Act


For further information contact the ED Budget Service.

This page last modified—May 7, 2009 (mjj).