The federal government contributes money to schools directly and indirectly. Part of this funding comes from the U. S. Department of Education, but other agencies contribute as well. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, for example, contributes to education through its Head Start program, while the U. S. Department of Agriculture funds the School Lunch program for students who cannot afford to pay for their own lunches. Even with these added contributions, the federal government accounts for less than 10 percent of school revenues. Using its own words, the Department of Education has long seen its role as “a kind of emergency response system” that fills gaps when state and local sources are inadequate to meet key needs. (For example, the 1944 GI Bill, a post-secondary program rather than el-hi program, helps fund college educations for nearly eight million World War II veterans.)
The Education Department’s measures are not always merely stop-gap. During and after World War II Congress passed the Lanham Act (1941) and the Impact Aid laws (1950) to compensate school districts that housed military and other nontaxable federal installations. Today, the federal government continues to compensate communities that house such institutions. Moreover, Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 guaranteed aid to disadvantaged children in poor urban and rural communities. The Higher Education Act, passed the same year, provided financial aid programs to help qualifying students meet college expenses.