Student Research Projects

The Effect of Students with Disabilities on Educational Funding

Student Rachel Lambert ‘16 (Women and Gender Studies)
Trey DelPo '17 (Political Science)
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Political Science
Course Political Science 265: Research Methods


According to the U.S. Department of Education, 1.6 percent of the public school student population has a disability. This research attempts to explain the variance in special education provisions across the public schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the United States using data collected from government organizations from 2012 to 2014. This data was analyzed by running bivariate and linear regressions in order to understand the relationship between funding and the size of the student population with disabilities. The research finds a 1 percent increase in the population with disabilities is associated with increased spending of $2.78 per student. This increase is quite sizeable. We found that the state with the highest funding per student, New York, spends only about $20 per student. We attribute this relationship to the cost of educational programming and support required for disability education. Our research implies that programs for students with disabilities are costly, and improving programming requires a substantial dedication of financial resources within state budgets.