What is the Department of Education (DOE)?


The Department of Education administers financial aid to educational institutions throughout the United States, including K-12, colleges and universities. Its mission includes promoting educational excellence and equal accessibility through data collection, financial aid distribution, and bringing national attention to reform issues.

The Key Takeaways

  • The Department of Education was created in 1979 and provides assistance to schools, students and teachers across the nation.
  • The Department of Education offers funding and financial assistance, conducts research and recommends reforms. It also promotes equal education access.
  • The Office of Federal Student Aid is a department within the Department of Education that distributes financial aid for students in college, career schools, and graduate schools.
  • Congress sets the budgetary resources for the Department of Education on an annual basis.


The Department of Education Works

The Department of Education is a federal organization that coordinates education assistance and sets policy. The DOE traces its roots back to 1867 when Andrew Johnson established an education department in order to gather information about U.S. school systems. The Department of Education Organization Act of 1979 was the first act of Congress that created the current version of the DOE.

Congress sets the funding for Department of Education on an annual basis. The DOE’s budget for fiscal year 2022 was $235.74 Billion. These funds were primarily allocated to the Office of Federal Student Aid which offers grants, work-study and student loan for students in college, career schools, and graduate school. The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education received the second largest portion, which helps with preschool, elementary and secondary education. 2

The Department of Education does not set up schools, create curricula or establish state education standards. It only assists the President and Congress with enacting laws pertaining to education. It focuses instead on four main objectives.

Provide Financial Aid

Federal Student Aid is the largest distributor of student financial aid in the U.S. Federal Student Aid is America’s largest provider of financial aid to students.

Federal Student Aid distributed $234.9 billion to undergraduate and graduate student in the academic year 2021-22. This included grants, loans and tax credits. The average amount of aid for undergraduate students was $15,300. Graduate student aid averaged $27,300.


The Federal Student Aid site allows students and parents to submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid and manage student loans. They can also apply for repayment plans, forgiveness programs and more.

Collect Data and Conducts Research

It collects data and information on education in order to identify the best practices. It shares its findings among educators, policymakers and parents, as well as researchers and the public. The DOE produces hundreds of publications each year on the state and topics of education in America.

Recommendations for Educational Reform

The Department of Education identifies education problems and makes reform recommendations. The Department of Education works with different advisory groups and organisations to collect ideas for policies and programs. The DOE secretary advises President Obama on educational policies and priorities. He also brings attention to national issues by giving speeches, writing articles and making personal appearances.

Equal Access to Education

The Department of Education has the responsibility of enforcing federal laws that prohibit discrimination in educational activities and programs. The laws apply to all agencies, schools and colleges, as well as libraries, museums and other institutions, to ensure that students have equal opportunities and to prevent discrimination based on race, color or national origin. Programs are designed to protect the rights, for example, of homeless children and women in athletic programs and people who speak limited English.


There are different types of offices in the Department of Education

There are nine different program offices within the Department of Education, each with a unique primary responsibility:

  • The Office of Federal Student Aid administers federal financial assistance to higher-educational institutions and students who attend.
  • The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education provides leadership and financial assistance to state and local education authorities to maintain and improve K-12 schools.
  • The Office of Postsecondary Education promotes access to higher education, the study of foreign language and international affairs and international education research.
  • The Institute of Education Sciences conducts research to produce evidence that can be used as a basis for education policy and practice.
  • The Office of English Language Acquisition and Language Enhancement for Limited English Proficient students: Administers, recommends policies and supports English-language learners through instructional programs.
  • The Office of Innovation and Improvement coordinates programs to support K-12 educational programs, including teacher-quality programs
  • Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools : Recommends policy to promote health and well-being of children, including drug and violent prevention programs and character and citizenship education
  • Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services supports programs and research to assist children with disabilities
  • Office of Vocational and Adult Education supports programs and activities that help adults earn a high school diploma or pursue postsecondary studies

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the role of Education Department?

The Department of Education (DOE) is a federal organization that distributes funding to schools and provides financial aid to students. It also collects data, does research, makes recommendations, and draws national attention to issues related to education. The Department of Education promotes equal education for all students regardless of their race, gender, age, disability or other protected characteristics.


Why was the Department of Education established?

The Department of Education has been created for a number of purposes, including ensuring equal access to education and promoting improvement.


What is the Department of Education composed of?

The Department of Education has nine program offices. These include the Office of Federal Student Aid and the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. It is led by the Secretary of Education, who is appointed by the President and confirmed by Senate. Each program office has a deputy secretary, an undersecretary and assistant secretaries.

the authorAaron Krause

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