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Career and Technical Education (CTE) | Funding

What Is Perkins Funding?

May 17th, 2023 | 7 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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As a CTE educator, you may have heard that your school uses Perkins funding to pay for curriculum expenses. But what exactly is Perkins funding? Where does it come from, and who gets to use it?

More importantly, how does the ability to apply Perkins funding affect your classroom?

In this article, you'll discover answers to some of the most pressing questions teachers and administrators have about Perkins grants:

  • What Is the Perkins V Act?
  • What Can Perkins Funds Be Used For?
  • Who Is Eligible for Perkins Grants?
  • What Does Perkins Funding Look Like in My State?
  • How Does CTE Funding Affect My Program?

After reading, you should better understand the role Perkins V plays in CTE funding so that you can better use these resources in your CTE program.

​What Is the Perkins V Act?

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) is the latest version of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. Perkins V is an act of the U.S. Congress that provides over $1.4 billion in federal funding for CTE education each year.

The Perkins Act aims to provide learners across the United States with opportunities to develop skills in every CTE career cluster and support students in earning certifications that will help them in their professional careers.

Congress periodically renews the Perkins Act to provide continual funding for CTE programs throughout America. The fifth version of the legislation was approved by Congress in 2018. The objective of the current version of the Perkins Act is to help educators reimagine CTE and offer new and expanded learning opportunities for the next generation of students.

What Can Perkins Funds Be Used For?

Perkins V stipulates specific circumstances where schools can receive funding to bolster their CTE programs and curriculum.

As an overarching principle, Section 135(a) of Perkins V states, "Each eligible recipient that receives funds under this part shall use such funds to develop, coordinate, implement, or improve career and technical education programs to meet the needs identified in the comprehensive needs assessment...."

This broad authorization, referred to in the legislation as the General Authority, permits a wide range of expenses connected with adequately maintaining a CTE program that satisfies Perkins V's stated goals of improving academic achievement and performance accountability.

However, not every expense a school, teacher, or CTE program may incur can be covered by a federal grant.

Here is a list of some of the most significant expenses educators can use Perkins funding for:

  • CTE curriculum
  • Certification exams and assessments
  • Equipment used for CTE instruction
  • Teacher salaries and compensation
  • Substitution teacher compensation
  • Professional development, including meetings and conferences
  • Excursions and extended learning opportunities for students
  • Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) advisor costs
  • Instructional materials and supplies
  • Expenses of renting and leasing buildings and equipment

CTE programs that use grants to purchase CTE curricula and certifications can justify their expenses as necessary for continually improving student engagement and performance under Perkins V requirements.

On the other hand, institutions aren't allowed to apply Perkins grants to these expenses:

  • Administrative costs above 5%
  • Equipment and supplies for building maintenance
  • Professional membership dues for individuals
  • Food and drink
  • Goods and services for personal use
  • Remedial courses
  • Scholarships
  • Standard classroom furniture
  • Tuition, fees, insurance, and similar student expenses

While the interpretation of Perkins V varies depending on where your institution is based, the State of Washington provides a handy list of allowable and unallowable expenditures you can use as a starting point.

Who Is Eligible for Perkins Funding?

Unlike other forms of federal funding distributed to school districts for various educational purposes, educators can only apply Perkins funds to career and technical education.

According to Section 3 of the Carl D. Perkins Act, several types of programs can benefit from Perkins V grants. Provided that they satisfy program requirements, any of the following institutions can apply for a grant:

  • Public schools that provide career and technical education
  • Nonprofit private schools with a CTE program
  • Correctional institutions offering CTE to incarcerated persons
  • Some postsecondary institutions that provide CTE training and credentials

In addition to outlining what types of expenses are allowable, Section 135 of the Carl D. Perkins Act specifies the type of educational program eligible for funding grants.

Programs must satisfy several criteria. Specifically, Perkins V reserves funds for:

  • CTE "programs that are of sufficient size, scope, and quality to be effective." (Sec. 135(b))
  • Programs that "provide career exploration and career development activities through an organized, systematic framework" from pre-enrollment through graduation and job placement. (Sec. 135(b)(1))
  • Programs that equip teachers, administrators, and support staff through continual professional development opportunities. (Sec. 135(b)(2))
  • Programs that integrate general academic skills to meet secondary or postsecondary academic standards. (Sec. 135(b)(4))
  • Programs "that result in increasing student achievement of the local levels of performance" (Sec. 135(b)(5)). Specific performance criteria are further outlined in Section 113.

In subsection 135(b)(5), the Perkins Act further outlines specific ways to execute a successful CTE program, among which are providing an effective curriculum, implementing work-based learning (WBL) opportunities, offering dual-enrollment opportunities, and utilizing industry-recognized certifications. Programs are further expected to be "continuously updating and aligning programs of study with skills that are in demand in the state, regional, or local economy."

Ultimately, if you are teaching in a CTE program for secondary- or post-secondary-level students, chances are you are eligible to receive Perkins V funds. You'll just need to demonstrate that your administration, teachers, and staff are running the program in a manner consistent with the requirements enumerated by the Perkins Act.

What Does Perkins Funding Look Like in My State?

Decisions about Perkins funding are made at the state level, and the interpretation of Perkins V can vary from state to state. This means that each state has its own way of determining eligibility under Perkins V and distributing funds to schools.

In order to ensure consistency under Perkins V, each state must submit its own state plan to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career and Technical Adult Education (OCTAE). Each plan covers a set number of academic years, often three or four school years. These plans outline how each state's education department will administer and implement Perkins V. This includes state eligibility requirements and performance benchmarks schools must meet to continue receiving Perkins grants.

States are also tasked with outlining local use criteria for Perkins funds that satisfy specific, ongoing educational needs within each state. When applying for a grant, CTE programs must explain how they will use the funding to advance these educational initiatives.

Perhaps most importantly, the state plans indicate how each department of education will conduct a needs assessment to determine grant allocations. Typically, this document will include deadlines for applying for funding for the upcoming academic year, along with specific questions CTE programs must answer when submitting a grant application.

Ultimately, the best way to determine Perkins funding requirements in your state is to read your state's plan for yourself.

You can find state plans for most states through the Advance CTE website. Several states also host a webpage with additional resources that might be helpful when preparing a Perkins grant application. In addition, Advanced CTE provides a CTE in Your State tool which displays statistics for program enrollment and funding allocation throughout the country.

Lastly, if you still have state-specific questions about Perkins V and other CTE funding,  consider contacting your state's education department directly.

How Does CTE Funding Affect My Program?

In this article, you've learned more about the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, commonly known as Perkins V. Specifically, we've covered what you can use Perkins grants for and who is eligible for funding, along with how Perkins can vary between different states.

The ability to use CTE funding grants, including Perkins V, can transform your CTE program with state-of-the-art curriculum resources to better prepare your students for industry certifications and professional opportunities.

Indeed, many teachers and schools rely on Perkins grants and other forms of funding to purchase iCEV, a comprehensive solution for CTE programs.

To learn more about allowable uses for CTE funding, visit the iCEV funding page. You'll discover how educators can use their funding to cover the cost of the iCEV curriculum and certification preparation resources:

Learn More About CTE Funding