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Education in the USA is the combined responsibility of the State, communities, and public and private organizations, a fact that is also reflected in the structure of educational finance in the country. Of the estimated $1 trillion spent being spent nationwide on education at all levels for school year 2007-2008, the federal contribution, including that of the Department of Education (ED) and other Federal agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services’ Head Start program and the Department of Agriculture’s School Lunch program towards elementary and secondary education has been a little less than 9%.

If we include spending on postsecondary education, it amounts to about 12%. The rest of the contribution is from the non-federal agencies. It is also important to point out that ED’s $68. 6 billion contribution is less than 2. 3 percent of the Federal Government’s $3 trillion budget in fiscal year 2008. Budget for education The Education Department sets aside an estimated budget of $68. 6 billion per year. Of this amount, $59. 2 billion is in discretionary appropriations and $9. 4 billion in mandatory appropriations.

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As already stated, the greatest beneficiaries of the amount are the elementary and secondary level programs. The goals and priorities of the government are reflected in the way the amount is distributed. As of date, the budget annually benefits about 14,000 school districts and approximately 56 million students attending some 97,000 public schools and 28,000 private schools. Apart from this, the ED also supports programs for providing grant, loan, and work-study assistance to about 11 million postsecondary students.

Distribution of funds for the Fund for the Improvement of Education (FIE) The FIE supports programs of national significance and provides grants to state and local education agencies, nonprofit organizations, for-profit organizations and other public and private entities that have been identified by the Congress in appropriations legislation” (Fund for the Improvement of Education). The amount in appropriations for the Fiscal Year is 2008 is $121,933,938.

Eligibility criteria The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (Public Law 110-161) directed the Office of Innovation and Improvement to award grants under the Fund for the Improvement of Education, Programs of National Significance to 383 institutions and organizations specified in the explanatory statement accompanying the Act. Only those institutions and organizations named in the explanatory statement accompanying the Act may receive these grants.

The organizations that can apply for this fund include Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), Local Education Agencies (LEAs), Nonprofit Organizations, Other Organizations and/or Agencies, State Education Agencies (SEAs) Nationwide budget for the Financial Year 2008 Appropriation: $121,933,938 Number of New Awards Anticipated: 385 Average New Award: $297,497 Range of New Awards: $23,581–$11,790,360 Number of Continuation Awards: 0 How to apply for a grant?

If your organization meets the eligibility criteria, you will be sent a letter inviting applications for the earmark grants. For example for this year the mails were sent beginning March 14, 2008, to the designated contact person for each project. The application guidelines will also be mailed with the letter. Preparing your application: You application provides a means for your organization to demonstrate to the Department that its proposed grant activities are consistent with the language in the Department’s appropriations act.

It should describe the activities your organization will carry out in order to meet the objectives. Submitting your application: You must submit an official application, as required by the awarding program’s statute and the regulations in 34 C. F. R. § 75. 104(a) by carrier, courier, or by using the Department’s e-Grants system, at http://e-Grants. ed. gov within the deadline given. For example the deadline for the year 2008 was April 18, 2008. However, for those applicants who were unable to meet the April 18th deadline, the time was extended to June 30, 2008.

Submitting a budget for the grant The budget must be prepared in accordance with the limits set by the specific provision for the earmark in the appropriations act and the program legislation, the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR). Also government-wide requirements including applicable cost principles are also applicable. Additionally, Federal money may generally be spent according to the categories found on the ED 524 Section A form, except for construction.

What the funds can be used for? Travel: The costs of travel to and from conferences and meetings directly related to your organization’s grant activities, and reasonable and necessary for the operation of the project, are allowable if your project focuses primarily on activities that are consistent with the Department’s Safe and Drug-Free Schools programs; Teacher Quality programs, including advanced credentialing, transition to teaching, school leadership, and teaching American history; or on technology.

Equipment and Supplies: If equipment is to be purchased for the purpose of the grant, grantees must comply with the requirements governing the purchase and use of equipment found in EDGAR at 34 C. F. R. §§ 74. 34 and 80. 32. Contracts: Grantees planning to use grant funds to contract for services must be cognizant of the EDGAR requirements found in 34 C. F. R. §§ 74. 40-74. 48 or 34 C. F. R. § 80.

36, whichever is applicable. EDGAR contains detailed specifications for procurement actions that grantees undertake with grant funds, including requirements for codes of conduct for grantee staff, competition, cost and price analysis, record-keeping, contractor compliance with certain Federal laws and regulations, and various mandatory provisions that must be included in contracts and subcontracts.

Dues: Costs of membership in business, professional, and technical organizations directly related to the purposes of this grant, and that are reasonable and necessary for the operation of the project, are allowable as direct costs. What the grant money cannot be used for Construction costs and mortgage payments: These are generally not allowed unless specified in the appropriations act language for your organization’s particular grant.

However, some funds may be used for the costs of minor renovations that are reasonable and necessary for the operation of the project. (See 34 C. F. R. § 77. 1(c) of EDGAR) Food and entertainment: These funds are usually not allowed although there are exceptions to the rule. For example, you can earmark this expense if you wish to spend a small amount of money for food if necessary to encourage low-income parents to attend a school event that is needed to reach the goals of your organization’s grant program.

Fund-raising: You cannot include costs related to organized fund-raising, including financial campaigns, endowment drives, solicitation of gifts and bequests, and similar expenses incurred solely to raise capital or obtain contributions. Lobbying: You cannot budget for any expense incurred on influencing or attempting to influence an officer or employee of an agency of the Federal government, a Member of Congress, an officer or employee of Congress, or an employee of a Member of Congress in connection with the awarding of any Federal contract.

Impact of the program The funds for the FIE ably support nationally significant programs to improve the quality of elementary and secondary education at the state and local levels and help all students meet challenging state academic content standards and student achievement standards.

References

Department of Education. Fund for the Improvement of Education http://www. ed. gov/programs/fie/index. html

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