USED Posts Title I Supplement not Supplant Guidance for Public Comment


In 2016 the Obama administration drafted ESSA Title I Supplement not Supplant regulations, which were later withdrawn just before the transition to the Trump administration. If the Obama era regulations had gone into effect and they were later rescinded by the Trump administration, according to the law that allows regulations to be rescinded, the Trump administration would have been prohibited from issuing new regulations on this topic. Now, two years later, USED has posted Supplement not Supplant Guidance for public comment.

The general provision called Supplement not Supplant found in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) basically states that federal funds cannot be used to replace state or local funds. So, generally speaking, federal funds cannot be used to pay for things that a school or district must pay for if it didn't receive those federal funds. This means that expenditures of federal funds must be tracked in order to show that federal funds were not used to supplant (or replace) state or local funds. ESSA, however, made some significant changes to how Supplement not Supplant can be determined for Title I funds.

There were no changes for the Supplement not Supplant provision for all ESSA Title programs except Title I. For Title I there is a special rule that is intended to make it easier to comply with the Supplement not Supplant provision. That particular rule indicates that as long as school districts have a methodology in place to ensure that all schools will receive the amount of state and local funds they would receive if no Title I funds were available, then they need not track individual costs or services supported by Title I. For educators, not having to track individual expenditures could be a significant reduction in the burden of administering Title I programs.

For districts accustomed to tracking every Title I expenditure to ensure it met the supplement not supplant compliance requirements, this caused some confusion. This confusion necessitated the drafting of guidance (now open for public comment for a period of 30 days) by the US Department of Education (USED) to help educators understand how to correctly apply the Supplement not Supplant special rule for Title I.

If you would like to see the USED webpage announcing the posting of this guidance for public comment, click here. This webpage also provides information on how to submit comments to USED.


Dr. David Holbrook

About The Author

Dr. David Holbrook is a nationally recognized leader in federal programs administration and monitoring with expertise in Title I, Title III, Native American Education, and Federal Programs. Dr. Holbrook has also worked as a consultant with Title III of the US Department of Education and now serves as Executive Director, Federal Compliance and State Relationships with TransAct.