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Federal Aid Outside the Education Department

Although the U.S. Department of Education is the largest source of federal aid for education, a variety of other federal agencies provide some support. 

Department of Health and Human Services: It’s not necessarily well known, but the third-largest federal program that benefits K-12 schools is Medicaid. For schools, Medicaid can pay for everything from medical equipment to salaries for staff like speech therapists. In fiscal 2020, Medicaid services provide about $4 billion to schools. Elsewhere, Head Start provides roughly $10.6 billion for early-childhood education, nutrition, health, and parental-involvement programs. And Preschool Development Grants get $275 million.

Department of Agriculture: The National School Lunch Program provides food to more than 30 million children, while the School Breakfast Program serves approximately 15 million children. 

Department of Justice: The STOP School Violence Act, passed after the Parkland, Fla. school shootings in 2018, provides $100 million for fiscal 2020 to school districts and others to support threat assessment, staff training, and interventions to help prevent violence at schools. School Violence Prevention Program, which is supposed by the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office at the department, provides up to $50 billion in grants for fiscal 2020 to improve security at schools to state and local governments. 

Department of the Interior: The department includes the Bureau of Indian Education. The bureau, which had $1.9 billion in funding for fiscal 2020, oversees 185 schools educating 41,000 children in rural communities on or near Native American reservations in 23 states. These schools have been the subject of intense criticism from Native American tribes and external observers for years. In June 2020, for example, a Government Accountability Office report found that the BIE “did not provide or could not account for almost 40 percent of the special education service time it’s required” for students with disabilities.