Congress establishes discretionary grant programs through authorizing legislation and appropriations legislation. The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) then usually writes program regulations based on the authorizing legislation, which describe how the programs are to be administered. After these program regulations are published in final form and Congress appropriates funds for the program, RSA can elicit applications and award grants. Unlike a formula grant, a discretionary grant awards funds on the basis of a competitive process. A federal agency such as RSA must set up a structure for the orderly review, award and administration of grants. RSA reviews applications in light of the legislative and regulatory requirements established for a program. This review process gives RSA discretion to determine which applications best address the program requirements and are, therefore, most worthy of funding.
Rehabilitation Services Administration funding programs are available with information about the scope, purpose, eligible recipients, funding levels and federal contacts. Funds availability is officially announced for each program in the Federal Register in the form of closing date notices. Unofficial copies of closing date notices and application kits are available under Discretionary Grants Funding Availability. Hard copies of application kits can be obtained by following the instructions in the relevant closing date notice.
Program offices, such as RSA, also include their proposed grant program schedules in the Education Department's Combined Application Notice (CAN). The CAN is generally published once a year in the Federal Register and is posted on the Department's Web site. It lists most of the discretionary grant competitions planned for each office for the coming year and includes anticipated application deadlines and other pertinent information. Also, the following links to various grants-related information topics on the Department's Web site may be of use to those interested in applying for a grant (or contract).
- Discretionary Grant Application Packages-- lists grant competitions that are currently open and provides links to downloadable application packages, forms and other information you'll need to apply.
- Federal Register documents-- includes notices inviting applications for grant competitions, as well as funding priorities, selection criteria, regulations and relevant workshops and meetings.
- Forecast of Funding Opportunities under ED Discretionary Grant Programs-- lists the dates, estimated number of awards and funding amounts for virtually all the Department's direct grant and fellowship competitions for new awards.
- Grantmaking at ED-- offers a non-technical summary of ED's discretionary grants process (application, review, award, administration, grant closeout, and audit) and the laws and regulations that govern the process.
- Guide to ED Programs-- provides a concise description of each of the programs that ED administers, identifies who may apply, and gives names, telephone numbers and e-mail and Web addresses of ED offices to contact for more information.
- ED General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR)-- defines the administrative requirements for managing projects funded by discretionary grants awarded by ED.
- Grants and Contracts Information-- provides additional information including currently available contract solicitations, a forecast of upcoming contract opportunities, grants policy bulletins, and databases of contract and grant awards.
- ED Budget -- provides an overview of the federal role in education, an explanation of the federal budget process, news about ED's budget and program-by-program details of the President's budget request.