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

Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Summary — February 1, 2010

All of us have a role to play in building an education system that is worthy of our children and ready to help us seize the opportunities and meet the challenges of the 21st century.

President Barack Obama
January 6, 2010

Section I. Summary of the 2011 Budget

In his first year in office, President Barack Obama combined unprecedented fiscal support for America's education system with extraordinary success in promoting and achieving fundamental reforms that will benefit students of all ages and their families. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) delivered nearly $100 billion to States and school districts to help address budget shortfalls and meet the needs of schools and students in the midst of the most severe financial crisis and economic recession since the Great Depression. This funding helped save or create an estimated 400,000 jobs, including 325,000 education jobs.

At the same time, the ARRA began laying the groundwork for needed education reforms that would help ensure America's future prosperity by encouraging States to develop improvement plans in four key areas (the four assurances required to receive nearly $49 billion in ARRA State Fiscal Stabilization Funds): supporting rigorous standards and assessments, improving teacher equity and effectiveness, using data to improve instruction, and turning around low-performing schools. The Administration also tapped $4 billion in ARRA funds to create the Race to the Top program, providing a significant incentive, through competitive grants, for States to develop comprehensive and innovative plans to implement major reforms related to each of the four assurances. States already have responded to Race to the Top by making essential changes, such as allowing data systems to link the achievement of individual students to their teachers and permitting more rapid expansion of effective charter schools.

The ARRA reforms also have provided a framework for key elements of the Administration's plan for the forthcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which will include changes to support State and local efforts to develop and implement college- and career-ready (CCR) standards and high-quality aligned assessments; improve the effectiveness of teachers and school leaders, especially in high-poverty schools; enhance data systems and train teachers to use data to improve student achievement; and implement rigorous interventions in the Nation's lowest-performing schools.

The President's fiscal year 2011 request for the Department of Education is intended to build on the achievements of the ARRA, support a comprehensive reauthorization of the ESEA, and begin to make good on the President's goal of restoring America to first in the world in college graduation rates by 2020.

The Administration is seeking $50.7 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Education, an increase of $4.5 billion over the comparable discretionary total provided in the 2010 appropriations act. The total increase includes up to $1 billion the Administration would request in a budget amendment only if Congress completes an ESEA reauthorization that includes the President's proposed reforms.

The request includes a potentially historic increase in ESEA funding that is intended to provide an incentive for Congress to act quickly on the long overdue ESEA reauthorization, reflecting Secretary Duncan's strong conviction that reauthorization "can't wait, because tomorrow won't wait, the world won't wait, and our children won't wait."

The overall 2011 request for education was guided by several key principles, including a strong emphasis on positive incentives and recognizing and rewarding success; focusing investments on fewer, more effective programs; and setting clear goals for Federal programs while giving States, school districts, and other program recipients more flexibility in meeting those goals. While ensuring that districts from different geographic regions can fairly compete, the budget promotes increased competition in awarding Federal education funds, and asks States and school districts for more in return for formula funds. These principles will be embedded in the Administration's ESEA reauthorization plan, which will be unveiled later this year but which is supported by the fiscal year 2011 budget request.

The significant discretionary increase included in the 2011 request reflects the importance of investing in education—a key driver of America's future economic prosperity—even as the Administration works to reduce the annual Federal deficit. At the same time, many of the new investments in the 2011 budget would be paid for by an estimated $51 billion in mandatory savings through 2020 that would be achieved by making all new postsecondary loans through the Direct Loans program and by restructuring Perkins Loans. In addition, the request would eliminate approximately 571 earmarked projects for a total estimated savings of $217 million.

Comparable Department of Education Appropriations
(in billions of dollars)

  2009 2010 2011
   (w/o Pell Grants)
$45.4 $46.2 $49.7
Potential ESEA Budget
Pell Grants (Mandatory
   beginning in 2010)
36.5 27.0 34.9
Recovery Act Funds
   (Non-Pell Discretionary)
Other Mandatory -25.4 -14.0 -6.8



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 Pell Grants and Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants.

Key proposals in the 2011 budget include the following:

$1 Billion ESEA Contingent Reserve

The 2011 request supports an ESEA reauthorization strategy that promotes college- and career-readiness, enhances teacher and leader effectiveness, delivers a rigorous and complete education, expands the availability of high-quality educational options, and prepares students for the jobs of the future. Subsequent to ESEA reauthorization, the Administration expects to submit to Congress a budget amendment that will align the 2011 request with the authorizations contained in the enacted bill. If Congress completes a fundamental overhaul of the Act that includes the President's proposed reforms, the Administration would seek up to $1 billion in additional funding for certain ESEA programs, including a new program under Title I, Part A to recognize and reward schools and LEAs that are making significant progress and closing achievement gaps; the reauthorized Assessing Achievement program, which would support high-quality assessment systems, including formative assessments; and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which supports expanded learning time, community schools, and other programs that provide additional time for students and teachers to succeed.

Pending Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA)

In addition to the strong emphasis on ESEA reauthorization, the Administration supports enactment of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which has passed in the House of Representatives and which is pending in the Senate. This pending legislation would implement significant portions of President Obama's plan to make changes in Federal postsecondary student loan programs, resulting in dramatic savings that can be reinvested in a variety of critical education programs benefitting students, families, and schools. This legislation would save taxpayers $51 billion through fiscal year 2020 by requiring new Federal postsecondary student loans to be made through the less costly Direct Loan program and by restructuring the Perkins Loan program. The request includes mandatory funding for priority education programs included in the pending legislation, including the following:

The overall 2011 budget request for the Department of Education is organized around the following priorities:


The Department of Education fully appreciates the unprecedented opportunity created by the ARRA to encourage innovation throughout America's system of elementary and secondary education. However, building a culture of achievement that emphasizes relentless improvement cannot be a one-shot deal. The Department must continue to invest in innovation, and the 2011 request would do just that.


A key goal of the Administration's ESEA reauthorization plan is to create incentives and supports to help States, LEAs, and schools recruit, prepare, support, reward, and retain effective teachers and school leaders and to create professional learning communities in our schools. The 2011 request is fully aligned with these goals, reflecting the Secretary's firm belief that "Nothing is more important than getting great teachers into our classrooms and great principals into our schools."


The Administration's ESEA reauthorization plan recognizes that supporting student success outside the classroom and the regular school day will support student success in the classroom. The 2011 request includes a total of $1.8 billion to support comprehensive services, a safe school environment, improving students' health and well-being; and additional learning opportunities outside the traditional school day.


The 2011 request includes several activities that support President Obama's "Educate to Innovate" campaign aimed at (1) increasing STEM literacy so that all students can master challenging content and think critically in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields; (2) moving American students from the middle of the pack to the top of the world in STEM achievement over the next decade and preparing the next generation of American scientists; and (3) expanding STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and girls.


The reauthorized ESEA would support high expectation and accountability for all student groups and the closing of achievement gaps to ensure that all students, including poor and minority students, graduate from high school college- and career-ready. To help States and LEAs close these achievement gaps, the 2011 request provides significant resources to improve services to students from low-income families, students with disabilities, and English learners.


The Administration has made college- and career-readiness for all students the goal of its ESEA reauthorization proposal because most students will need some postsecondary education to compete successfully for jobs in the 21st century global economy. Just as essential is ensuring that students and families have the financial support they need to pay for college. The Administration supports passage of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), which has passed the House of Representatives and is pending in the Senate, and which would make key changes in student financial aid and higher education programs that are consistent with President Obama's goal of restoring America's status as first in the world in the percentage of its citizens with college degrees by 2020. In combination with the pending legislation, the 2011 request would make available more than $156 billion in new grants, loans, and work-study assistance—an increase of $58 billion or 60 percent over the amount available in 2008—to help almost 15 million students and their families pay for college. The request includes:


In addition to the student financial assistance described under SAFRA, the 2011 request would continue to support minority-serving institutions, innovative postsecondary education reform activities, international education, and access and completion for disadvantaged students.


The 2011 request includes funding for a variety of programs targeting adult learners, including career and technical education, adult basic and literacy education, and vocational rehabilitation programs, that provide essential support for State and local activities intended to help millions of Americans navigate the ever-changing job market and overcome the career challenges created by the combination of global competition and the economic recession.


The Administration is seeking a total of $738.8 million, an increase of almost $80 million, or 12 percent, to support the Department of Education's longstanding role in sponsoring education research and development activities, gathering and making available to researchers and the public a wide range of data on our education system, and measuring the performance of American students through a rigorous assessment program in a variety of academic subjects. The 2011 request includes the following:


Table of contents  Recovery Act


For further information contact the ED Budget Service.

This page last modified—February 1, 2010 (mjj).