Grant Basics

TEA administers grants primarily funded by two sources: federal funds and state funds. Federal grants are funded through legislation passed by the U.S. Congress, while state-funded grants are authorized by the Texas Legislature. Grants may be formula or discretionary grants, as described below. To learn about Requests for Applications (RFAs) and application submission, visit Applying for a Grant. To subscribe to TEA email bulletins for grant announcements, go to the Sign Up for Updates page on the TEA website and select Grants from the Finance and Grants category.

Formula Grants

The legislation authorizing a formula grant includes a mathematical formula for calculating the amount of grant funds, or the entitlement, that each eligible applicant may receive.

The three major formula-grant programs that TEA administers are authorized by the following pieces of federal legislation:

  • Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as reauthorized in 2015 by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as reauthorized by the IDEA Improvement Act of 2004
  • Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 2006, as reauthorized in 2018 by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V)

Eligibility: For formula grants, authorizing statute determines eligibility. Only local educational agencies (LEAs), such as independent school districts and open-enrollment charter schools, are eligible to apply. Current and prior-year allocation amounts for each LEA eligible for an entitlement grant are listed on the Entitlements page of the TEA website.

Discretionary Grants

Discretionary grants are grants in which the legislation authorizing the grant gives some freedom, or discretion, to the agency administering the grant. The legislation may define certain elements of the grant program, such as population to be served or services to be provided, while leaving the administering agency and the commissioner of education free to determine other elements, such as eligibility criteria or the amount to be awarded to grantees.

Eligibility: Independent school districts, open-enrollment charter schools, education service centers, institutions of higher education, and public and private nonprofit organizations may be eligible depending on the eligibility criteria defined in the legislation authorizing the grant program or by TEA. Specific eligibility requirements can be found in the Program Guidelines for the grant on the TEA Grant Opportunities page.

TEA may award discretionary grants on a competitive or noncompetitive basis.

Discretionary Competitive Grants

TEA awards discretionary competitive grant funds to eligible applicants whose applications meet submission requirements and receive the highest scores in a peer-review process. Discretionary competitive grants require a formal competition, informal discretionary competition, or letter of interest application process.

Formal Competition: If the authorizing statute or approved state plan requires a grant competition, eligible applicants must follow a formal competitive application process. Formal competitive grants are announced in the Texas Register as well as via email bulletins. 

Informal Discretionary Competition (IDC): The goal of the IDC process is to make it easier for applicants to apply for grant funding while maintaining competition for funding. The amount of competitive funds awarded to each grantee depends on the number of applicants that are eligible for funding and on the total amount of grant funds available. The competitive process is strictly defined and monitored to ensure fairness and consistency.

Letter of Interest (LOI): An LOI is used primarily to award statewide initiatives to one awardee. Statewide initiatives are awarded for three years with TEA’s discretion to extend the award up to two additional years. Statewide initiatives must be competed at least every five years. 

Discretionary Noncompetitive Grants

Discretionary noncompetitive grants are awarded to a predetermined list of eligible applicants, each of which is allotted a certain amount of grant funding. TEA contacts eligible applicants directly or via email bulletin to alert them to the availability and amount of noncompetitive grant funding.

Learn More

Applying for a Grant Administering a Grant FAQs

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Contact Information

Grants Administration Division
Division Contacts
Phone: (512) 463-8525

Have questions? View answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

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