President Obama’s 2017 Budget Supports Increased Equity and Excellence

The Obama administration released a fiscal year 2017 budget on Tuesday, Feb. 9, that makes crucial investments building on the administration’s work to advance educational equity and excellence, support teachers and school leaders, and promote college access, affordability, and completion.

[Related: What the Obama Administration Is Doing to Fight Black Unemployment]

“The President’s budget reflects the administration’s broader efforts to expand opportunity and ensure every child can achieve his or her full potential,” said Acting Education Secretary John B. King Jr. “We have made tremendous progress with record high school graduation rates and more students of color going to college, but we have further to go to ensure that educational excellence is a reality for all students. This budget builds on the administration’s continued efforts to invest in education, from high quality early learning through college.”

The president’s education budget provides $69.4 billion in discretionary funding, a 2% increase over the 2016 appropriation. The budget also includes $139.7 billion in new mandatory funding over the next decade. The budget supports the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which embraces many of the reforms the administration has long supported to improve outcomes for all students.

To increase equity and excellence, the administration is proposing the following:

  • $15.4 billion for Title I grants to school districts
  • A commitment to early learning as a path to opportunity anchored by President Obama’s Preschool for All proposal, which would provide mandatory funding for universal high-quality preschool programs for all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families, along with a total increase of $80 million for IDEA Preschool and IDEA Grants for Infants and Families, and an increase of $100 million to the Department of Health and Human Services for the jointly administered Preschool Development Grants program
  • $120 million for a new Stronger Together Grants program, which would encourage the development of innovative, ambitious plans to increase socioeconomic diversity through voluntary, community-supported strategies and expand existing efforts in states and communities
  • $4 billion in mandatory funding over three years for the new Computer Science for All program, to support state efforts to expand access for all students to computer science instruction and programs of study; and $100 million in discretionary Computer Science for All Development Grants program for school districts, to promote innovative strategies to provide high-quality instruction and other learning opportunities in computer science
  • $138 million for more vigorous enforcement of our nation’s civil rights laws by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights, which ensures equal access to education

The budget proposal includes supports for teachers and other school leaders, and to expand access, affordability, and completion in higher education, including the Pell for Accelerated Completion to provide year-round Pell availability to low-income students taking a full course load who have exhausted their award.

Daria Hall, interim vice president for government affairs and communications at the Education Trust, says that elements of the president’s proposed budget could be powerful. “It’s especially meaningful for low-income students and students of color that Pell Grants could be made available year-round.” She notes that more than half of students of color receive Pell awards. 

For more information about the Department of Education’s budget request, go to