Education Costs

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires states to provide education and intervention services for children who meet certain eligibility criteria from birth through age 21. When this bill was passed, Congress authorized the federal government to pay up to 40% of the excess cost of educating students with disabilities, although it routinely funds considerably less than this amount.[33] For congressional purposes, the excess cost of educating a student with a disability is equal to the national average per pupil expenditure (APPE), suggesting that it is approximately twice as expensive to educate a student with a disability than it is to educate a student without a disability.[33] This assumption is supported by a report for the Department of Education by the Special Education Expenditure Project, which found that per pupil expenditures on disabled students were approximately double the per pupil expenditures on students who are not disabled.[34] Thus, we assume that the excess cost associated with educating a disabled student is equal to the APPE. In 2008, the National Center for Education Statistics reported the APPE to be $10,297. We adjusted this value for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, resulting in an estimated APPE of $11,371 in 2013.

Table 10.1. Number of Children Registered to Receive APH Services in 2010

Number of Children Registered to Receive APH Services in 2010
Note: APH = American Printing House for the Blind

Table 10.2. Cost for special education for the blind, 2013

Cost for special education for the blind, 2013

We assumed that only blind students would require special education accommodations. The APH maintains a registry of children registered by state departments of education to receive special education materials due to blindness. We excluded individuals registered as adult, postgraduate, or vocational students, resulting in an estimate of 51,388 blind students requiring special education (Table 10.1). Multiplying this number by the APPE, we estimate that education costs in 2013 were approximately $675 million (Table 10.2).