State Funding for Students with Disabilities

All States All Data

June 2015


This database indicates each state's funding mechanism, allocation and student count method for K-12 students with disabilities.

Funding Mechanism: There are three main funding mechanisms for students with disabilities:

  • Formula funding: Funding is included in the state’s primary funding formula (33 states & D.C.)
  • Categorical funding: Funding is allocated outside of the state’s primary funding formula through separate line items (12 states)
  • Reimbursement funding: Funding is allocated outside of the state’s primary funding formula. Districts are reimbursed after costs are accrued (Five states).

State Allocation: State allocations depend on the type of funding mechanism a state uses.

  • For formula-funded states, we provide the weight, resource-based allocation ratios or dollar amounts, depending upon the state's system.
  • Categorical funding amounts may vary each year based on the state budget—we provide the most up-to-date information available.
  • For reimbursement states, we provide the reimbursement percentage.

Method of Determining Student Count: States use either:

  • Student counts, or
  • A fixed percentage of students – often referred to as "census" counts.

The most common systems used for special education student counts are a student's average daily attendance (ADA), average daily membership (ADM) or enrollment of students. Six states make use of a system that does not rely on student counts but assumes that all districts have the same percentage enrollment of special education students. This system is known as a census-based system.

Data compiled by Maria Millard & Stephanie Aragon: mmillard@ecs.org or 303.299.3620, saragon@ecs.org or 303.299.3614

Funding Mechanism State Allocation Student Count
Alabama Formula-funded: staff-based allocation Standard grade level teacher-student divisors are adjusted to reflect 5% of the average daily membership weighted by 2.5. Teacher to student ratios are:
Grades K-3: 1:14.25
Grades 4-6: 1:21.85
Grades 7-8: 1:20.20
Grades 9-12: 1:18.45
Compensation for special education teachers is determined by salary matrix based on years of experience and level of education.
Census-based
Alaska Formula-funded: single weight Alaska uses a special needs factor of 1.2 in the formula. Census-based
Arizona Formula-funded: multiple weights Eleven weights in the formula:
Hearing impaired: 4.771
Multiple disabilities, autism and severe intellectual disability: 6.024
Self-contained programs for pupils with multiple disabilities, autism and severe intellectual disability: 5.833
Multiple disabilities with severe sensory impairment: 7.947
Orthopedic impairments, resource program: 3.158
Orthopedic impairments, self-contained program: 6.773
Preschool, severe delayed: 3.595
Developmental delays, emotional disabilities, mild intellectual disabilities, specific learning disability, speech/language impairment and other health impairments: 0.003
Emotional disabilities, enrolled in private special education programs: 4.822
Moderate intellectual disability: 4.421
Visual impairment: 4.806
The prior year’s 100th day Average Daily Membership
Arkansas Categorical Arkansas only provides funding for students with disabilities with high-costs. Student count on October 1
California Categorical Funding depends on state appropriations. In FY 2014-2015, the department allocated $2,811,461,000 for students with disabilities. Census-based
Colorado Categorical In FY 2014-2015, $160.9 million was allocated for special education programs. Districts receive $1,250 for each student with a disability. An additional $6,000 for children with certain disabilities may be provided; however, that funding is dependent on state appropriations and may be prorated. $500,000 is available for children not under the care of their parents. Student count on December 1
Connecticut Formula-funded The state’s funding formula does not specifically designate money for students with disabilities; however, districts use formula funds for such purposes. Student count on October 1
Delaware Formula-funded: staff-based allocation Partial unit funding for instructional units is provided based on grade
and level of disability (basic, intensive and complex). Teacher to student ratios are:
Pre-school: 1: 12.8
K-3: 1: 16.2
Basic, grades 4-12: 1: 8.4
Intensive, PreK-12: 1: 6
Complex, PreK-12: 1: 2.6
Student count on September 30
District of Columbia Formula-funded: multiple weights Five weights in the formula:
Level 1 - Eight hours or less per week of specialized services: 0.97
FY 2015 Allocation: $9,207
Level 2 - More than 8 hours and less than or equal to 16 hours per school week of specialized services: 1.2
FY 2015 Allocation: $11,390
Level 3 - More than 16 hours and less than or equal to 24 hours per school week of specialized services: 1.97
FY 2015 Allocation: $18,699
Level 4 - More than 24 hours per week which may include instruction in a self-contained (dedicated) special education school other than residential placement: 3.49
FY 2015 Allocation: $33,127
Residential: 1.67
FY 2015 Allocation: $15,852
The weightings are applied cumulatively in the counts of students who fall into more than one of the above categories.
Student count on or before October 15
Florida Formula-funded: multiple weights Five weights in the formula:
K-3: 1.126
4-8: 1.00
9-12: 1.004
Level 4 support: 3.548
Level 5 support: 5.104
Fixed funding for special education students not receiving level 4 or 5 services is provided through an Exceptional Student Education guaranteed allocation.
Multiple program membership surveys
Georgia Formula-funded: staff-based Teacher to student ratios are:
Category 1 - Self-contained specific learning disabled and self-contained speech-language disordered: 1:8
Category 2 - Mildly mentally disabled: 1:6.5
Category 3 - Behavior disordered, moderately mentally disabled, severely mentally disabled, resourced specific learning disabled, resourced speech-language disordered, self-contained hearing impaired and deaf, self-contained orthopedically disabled, and self-contained other health impaired: 1:5
Category 4 - Deaf-blind, profoundly mentally disabled, visually impaired and blind, resourced hearing impaired and deaf, resourced orthopedically disabled, and resourced other health impaired: 1:3
Category 5 - Those special education students classified as being in Categories 1 through 4 whose Individualized Educational Programs specify specially designed instruction or supplementary aids or services in alternative placements, in the least restrictive environment, including the regular classroom and who receive such services from personnel such as paraprofessionals, interpreters, job coaches, and other assistive personnel: 1:8
Category 6 - Intellectually gifted: 1:12
A full-time equivalent formula which includes the count of segments of the school day for each student enrolled in special education
Hawaii Categorical Funding depends on state appropriations. For FY 2014-2015, $325.5 million was allocated for students with disabilities (approximately 23.2% of the education budget).
*Note: Hawaii is a single school district.
Based on individual student need, not enrollment.
Idaho Formula-funded: staff-based allocation Districts receive special education funding at a rate of 6.0% of a district’s total K–6 enrollment and 5.5% of a district’s total 7–12 enrollment for additional support units. The percentage of a district’s total enrollment eligible for exceptional child funding is divided by the exceptional child support unit divisor of 14.5 to determine the number of exceptional child support units generated by the district. Census-based
Illinois Categorical Illinois distributes special education funding via separate categorical programs. In FY 2015, $1.5 billion was provided for these programs. Chicago District 299 receives special education funding through a block grant based on a static percentage and applied against each categorical program. Based on the IDEA child count of all students in the state
Indiana Formula-funded: dollar allocation Per pupil expenditures by category:
Severe disabilities: $8,350 ($8,800 beg. in FY 2016)
Mild and moderate disabilities: $2,265 ($2,300 beg. in FY 2016)
Communication disorders: $533 ($500 beg. in FY 2016)
Homebound programs: $533 ($500 beg. in FY 2016)
Special preschool education programs: $2,750 (remains the same beg. in FY 2016)
Student count on December 1
Iowa Formula-funded: multiple weights Three additional weights in the formula:
Level 1 - Students receiving specially designed instruction for a part of the educational program (includes modifications and adaptations to the general  education program): 0.72
Level 2 - Students receiving specially designed instruction for a majority of the educational program (includes substantial modifications, adaptations, and special education accommodations to the general education program): 1.21
Level 3 – Students receiving specially designed instruction for most or all of the educational program (requires extensive redesign of curriculum and substantial modification of instructional techniques, strategies and materials): 2.74
Student count on or before November 1
Kansas Formula-funded: single weight Weight in the formula: 1.6874 Based on actual counts of students enrolled and receiving services.
Kentucky Formula-funded: multiple weights Three additional weights in the formula:
Low incidence disabilities: 2.35
Moderate incidence: 1.17
High incidence: 0.24
Student count on December 1
Louisiana Formula-funded: single weight Weight in the formula: 1.5 Student count on February 1
Maine Formula-funded: multiple weights Funding is based on a 6 step formula adjustment:
Step 1: Base Component - Applies 1.277 weight (for the excess cost) to all students up to 15% of subsidizable students in the district.
Step 2: Prevalence Adjustment - Applies .38 weight (for the excess cost) to all students above 15% of subsidizable students in the district.
Step 3: Size Adjustment - Applies .29 weight for additional funds for school administrative units with fewer than 20 students w/disabilities in the district.
Step 4: High Cost In-District Adjustment - Allocates additional funds for students estimated to cost 3 times the statewide special education EPS rate in the district.
Step 5: High Cost Out-of-District Adjustment - Allocates additional funds for students estimated to cost 4 times the statewide special education EPS rate in the district.
Step 6: EPS Special Education Allocation (with EPS Maintenance of Effort Adjustment and High Cost Out-of-District Adjustment) in the district.
Student count on December 1

There is a cap of 15% of the district's pupil count for accounting for students with disabilities. For districts in which the annual December 1 child count for the most recent year is less than 15% of the school administrative unit's resident pupils, the special education child count percentage may not increase more than 0.5% in any given year, up to a maximum of 1.0% in any given 3-year period. For each special education student above the 15% maximum, the unit receives an additional weight of .38.

Maryland Formula-funded: single weight Per pupil amount is 74% of the annual per pupil foundation amount multiplied by 0.5, the state share of special education funding. The greater of the number of special education students for the prior fiscal year or the number of special education students for the second prior fiscal year.
Massachusetts Formula-funded: dollar allocation In FY2015, the state provided districts with $23,332 for each assumed, in-district, special-needs student and $26,461 for each assumed, out-of-district, special-needs student, calculated at the full-time equivalent, rather than the individual, student level. The state also provides a high-cost reimbursement. For each student, the state's share equals 75% of the prior year's approved instructional costs in excess of 4 times the full amount of the prior year's state average per pupil foundation budget. For students who do not live with a parent or guardian, the state reimburses 100%. Reimbursements are subject to appropriation. Census-based
Michigan Reimbursement Reimbursement: 28.6138% Two pupil counts are used: the number of students with an IEP (head count) and the special education full-time equivalent count. Each student is counted only once and represents a full person, regardless of the setting in which they are educated.
Minnesota Categorical $1.12 billion allocated for students with disabilities in FY 2014-2015. The state is transitioning to a new funding method for FY 2016 (still a categorical program) that distributes funding through dollar allocation for three categories of disabilities. Adjusted Average Daily Membership count. Beginning in Fiscal Year 2016, the state will transition to a more census-based method that accounts for overall district average daily membership served, poverty concentration, district size, and the average costs of educating students with different primary disabilities.
Mississippi Formula-funded: staff-based allocation One teacher unit is provided for each approved class of exceptional students. The funding allocated is based on the teacher’s certification and experience. Additional funds for students with disabilities are provided through the Special Education, Special Services fund in the State Treasury. Student count on December 10
Missouri Formula-funded: single weight An additional weight of 0.75 is applied to student counts above the state threshold of 12.6% special education students. Average Daily Attendance above the state threshold of 12.6%.
Montana Categorical Funding depends on state appropriations. The total special education allocation must be distributed according to the following formula:
52.5% through instructional block grants
17.5% through related services block grants
25% to reimbursement of local districts
5% to special education cooperatives and joint boards for administration and travel
The "Average Number Belonging" calculation of the number of students enrolled
Nebraska Reimbursement Reimbursement has varied 51% - 57% since 2010 N/A
Nevada Categorical Funding for 3,049 special education units was $41,608 in FY 2014 and $42,745 in FY 2015 for a total of $126.9 million and $130.3 million respectively. Based on "special education program unit"-- or teaching positions
New Hampshire Formula-funded: dollar allocation $1,881.98 for each special education student is added to the base per pupil cost of $3,498.30 per ADM-R. Average Daily Membership
New Jersey Formula-funded: dollar allocation 2/3 of the special education costs are funded through the state's primary formula and 1/3 through categorical funding. General special education costs are separate from speech only students. Total FY 2015-2016 allocations per-pupil for general special education was $15,805 and for speech only was $1,259. Census-based
New Mexico Formula-funded: multiple weights Four additional weights in the formula:
Students requiring a minimal amount of special education: 0.7
Students requiring a moderate amount of special education: 0.7
Students requiring an extensive amount of special education: 1.0
Student requiring a maximum amount of special education: 2.0
Student count on December 1
New York Formula-funded: single weight Weight in the formula: 1.41. Average Daily Attendance weighted by the fraction of the school day that the student is enrolled in the public school programs.
North Carolina Categorical Funding depends on state allocations. In FY 2014-2015, $784,172,856 (or $3,926.97 per funded child count) was allocated for students with disabilities. The lesser of the student count on April 1 or 12.5% of the allotted Average Daily Membership
North Dakota Formula-funded: single weight Additional weight in the formula: 0.082. Average Daily Membership
Ohio Formula-funded: dollar allocation For FY 2015, per-pupil expenditures by category:
Speech impaired: $1,517
Developmentally disabled, specific learning disabled, other health issues – minor, preschool developmentally delayed: $3,849
Hearing impaired, severe behavior: $9,248
Visually impaired, other health issues – major: $12,342
Multiple disability, orthopedically handicapped: $16,715
Traumatic brain injury, autism, and deaf-blindness: $24,641
Average Daily Membership compiled continuously throughout the school year
Oklahoma Formula-funded: multiple weights Eleven additional weights in the formula:
Vision impaired: 3.8
Learning disabilities: 0.4
Deaf or hard-of-hearing: 2.9
Deaf and blind: 3.8
Educable mentally handicapped: 1.3
Emotionally disturbed: 2.5
Gifted: 0.34
Multiple handicapped: 2.4
Physically handicapped: 1.2
Speech impaired: 0.05
Trainable mentally handicapped: 1.3
The highest of the weighted Average Daily Memberships from the two preceding school years
Oregon Formula-funded: single weight Additional weight in the formula: 1.0. Average Daily Membership

May not exceed 11% of the district's Average Daily Membership without review and approval by the Department of Education.

Pennsylvania Categorical The categorical funds are distributed through a weighted student count based on categories of student costs:
Category 1: 1.51
Category 2: 3.77
Category 3: 7.46
Two year prior student count of students in each cost category
Rhode Island Formula-funded: single weight The state's "high need student weight" is 40%. It is meant to address the effects of poverty and other factors influencing educational need. The number of students eligible for free and reduced price lunch.
South Carolina Formula-funded: multiple weights Five weights in the formula:
Educable mentally handicapped pupils and learning disabilities pupils: 1.74
Trainable mentally handicapped pupils, emotionally handicapped pupils and orthopedically handicapped pupils: 2.04
Visually handicapped pupils, pupils with autism and hearing handicapped pupils: 2.57
Speech handicapped pupils: 1.9
Pupils who are homebound and pupils who reside in emergency shelters: 2.1
The cumulative one hundred thirty-five day Average Daily Membership of each school district by program classification
South Dakota Formula-funded: dollar allocation Six allocations in the formula:
Level 1 - Mild disability (count is calculated by determining 10.04% of student count): $4, 897
Level 2 - cognitive disability, emotionally disturbed: $12,037
Level 3 - Hearing loss, deafness, vision loss, deaf-blind, orthopedic impairment, traumatic brain injury: $16,002
Level 4 - Autism: $14,288
Level 5 - Multiple disability (must include 2 or more disabilities in levels 2, 3 or 4, not including Deaf-Blind): $21,635
Level 6 - Prolonged assistance: $7,796
The district's state aid fall enrollment and December child count.
Tennessee Formula-funded: staff-based allocation Tiered teacher allocation system based on location of instruction and amount of specialized contact. A schedule of 10 special education options determines teacher allocations requirements.
Special education supervisor: 1:750
Special education assessment personnel: 1:600
Special education assistant: 1:60
Classroom materials and supplies: $36.50/SE Student
Instructional equipment: $13.25/SE Student
Classroom-related travel: $17.25/SE Student
A weighted Average Daily Membership count based on attendance months: 2 (12.5%), 3 (17.5%), 6 (35%) and 7 (35%)
Texas Formula-funded: multiple weights Twelve weights in the formula:
Homebound: 5.0
Hospital class: 3.0
Speech therapy: 5.0
Resource room: 3.0
Self-contained, mild and moderate, regular campus: 3.0
Self-contained, severe, regular campus: 3.0
Off home campus: 2.7
Nonpublic day school: 1.7
Vocational adjustment class: 2.3
State schools: 2.8
Residential care and treatment: 4.0
Mainstream: 1.1
The number of full-time equivalents in each instructional arrangement. The number of special education full-time equivalents is subtracted from the Average Daily Attendance figure used to calculate the regular program allotment.
Utah Formula-funded: dollar allocation Funding per student is based on the state's add‐on weighted pupil unit value of $2,837 for FY2015-2016. The previous five year's Average Daily Membership data. A growth factor is also added equal to the change in Average Daily Membership three years prior compared to two years prior.
Vermont Reimbursement Reimbursement: 60% for
(1) 9.75 special education teaching positions per 1,000 average daily membership (ADM) and
(2) up to two special education administrators per supervisory
union/district based on ADM
Average Daily Membership
Virginia Formula-funded: staff-based allocation A minimum of 51 professional instructional positions and aide positions and for special education, a minimum of 6.0 professional instructional positions and aide positions for each 1,000 pupils in March 31 ADM each year.
2015 appropriations:
Special Education and Student Services: $13,225,359
Special Education Instructional Services: $7,999,000
Special Education Administration and Assistance Services $510,001
Special Education Compliance and Monitoring Services: $2,527,393
Average Daily Membership
Washington Formula-funded: single weight Additional weight in the formula: 0.93.
*Note: there are additional weights for early childhood but only one weight for students age 5-21.
The lesser of the district's resident special education annual average enrollment or 12.7%
West Virginia Categorical Funding depends on state appropriations. The total FY 2016 allocation was $7,271,757. Student count on December 1
Wisconsin Reimbursement Reimbursement: 26.79% N/A
Wyoming Reimbursement Reimbursement: 100% N/A

 

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