US Department of Education

  • Overview

The US Department of Education oversees the schools that school the nation. The agency establishes policy for the US educational system with the goal that all students receive a quality education and are prepared to compete in the global market. It evaluates the performances of schools through student assessments, holding them accountable for achievement scores and it administers federal student financial aid programs, the country's largest source of student loans. The Department of Education was formed in 1980 and is led by the secretary of education. It has an annual budget of about $68 billion.

The Obama Administration has requested a budget of $69.8 billion for 2013, a 2.5% increase over 2012.

Federal education funds are distributed using three methods: a set formula, competition, and financial need assessment. Some programs follow a prescribed formula that allows qualified agencies to receive funds determined by the number of students meeting certain criteria in that state or school district. For instance, the department allocates money under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which ensures that more than 6.5 million children, ages 3 to 21, with disabilities receive an appropriate public education.

Meanwhile, federal money is also doled out based on competitive applications and financial need; the latter allows college students, for example, to apply for grants, loans, and fellowships depending on their family's income.

Among the department's student financial assistance programs are the federal Pell Grant, which provides an annual maximum of $5,500 that does not have to be repaid to attend school full-time or part-time. The Title I grant offers financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools with high numbers of children from low-income families.

Additional duties of the Department of Education include collecting and analyzing data on US schools to inform educators, policymakers, parents, researchers, and the general public, as well as enforcing civil rights statutes to ensure fair and equal educational opportunity for students, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age.

Contrary to some misconceptions, the department does not establish schools, develop curricula, set requirements for enrollment and graduation, determine state education standards, or develop testing that measures whether states are meeting their education standards.

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US Department of Education


400 Maryland Ave Sw Ste 7w301
Washington, DC 20202-0001
Phone: 1 (202) 401-3000
www.ed.gov

STATS


  • Employer Type: Government Agency
  • Secretary of Education: Arne Duncan
  • Deputy Secretary: Anthony Miller
  • Chief Financial Officer, Office of the Chief Financial Officer: Thomas Skelly

Major Office Locations

  • Washington, DC