Perkins Funding: Grants, Funds & Uses

Perkins Funding: Grants, Funds & Uses

What is Perkins Funding or the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act?

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, known as Perkins or Perkins V, , is the main federal funding source for high school and postsecondary CTE programs.

Career and technical education (CTE) is an important route that offers students the opportunity to personalize their education pathway based on their unique career interests and skills.

According to the U.S.  Department of Education, “At the high school level, CTE provides students with opportunities to explore a career theme of interest while learning a set of technical and employability skills that integrate into or complement their academic studies.”

“High school CTE is meant to connect with and lead to postsecondary programs of study or additional training after high school, which may include more specialized technical instruction. These pathways can culminate in postsecondary degrees or certificates, apprenticeships, or employment.”

Federal CTE legislation has gone through many iterations and revisions, with the first federal investment in CTE dating back to the Smith-Hughes Act in 1917. The legislation we know today as Perkins originated as the Vocational Education Act of 1963, and has been revised and renamed a number of times. It was first named after Rep. Carl Perkins from Kentucky in 1984. 

The latest version of the Perkins Act was passed by Congress in July 2018, and is known as the Strengthening Career & Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, or Perkins V.

According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, Perkins V, “reauthorizes and updates the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV) to ensure career and technical education (CTE) programs meet the demands of the twenty-first century economy.”

To read more about the specific changes from Perkins IV that impact state accountability systems and CTE delivery models, read this document. 

What are the funds available under the Perkins Act?

Perkins funding covers two main funding programs:

  1. Basic State Grants (Title I): Through this program, money is distributed to each state, which in turn disseminates money to local school districts and postsecondary institutions to fund their CTE programs. 
  2. National Programs: These funds remain at the federal level and allow the Department of Education to support research and other national priorities that help improve CTE programs. According to the National Immigration Forum’s Fact Sheet on the Perkins CTE, “these funds are currently used to support the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education and other activities assisting states with implementing key requirements of the Perkins Act.”

What can Perkins funds be used for?

Perkins funds must be used to support CTE, but each state has its own separate criteria for programs and expenses that come specifically under Perkins funding.

Each state outlines their priorities in a separate Perkins state plan, and may have other fiscal guidance available to local recipients as well. It is important to note that states may supplement federal requirements or add additional parameters to the list of required and permissive uses of funds included in the federal law.  

In addition, under Perkins V, all expenditures have to be aligned with the needs identified in the comprehensive local needs assessment, discussed more below.

Some things Perkins funds may be able to be used for in your state include  software licenses (wherein Perkins Grant funding can be used to support eLearning platforms), field trips (federal funds might be able to be utilized to fund staff members’ travel to CTE leadership activities), work-based learning programs, career guidance and placement programs and professional development and training for teachers. 

How do I apply for Perkins Grant funding?

At the K-12 level, Perkins funds are distributed to school districts (with a few exceptions), and at the postsecondary level, they are distributed to individual institutions. Since the Perkins Grant application can be different for each state, it is best to get in touch with your state CTE director to figure out what to do and how to apply for a Perkins Grant on behalf of a district or postsecondary institution.

Each applicant has to also submit a comprehensive needs assessment to their state under the new Perkins V or ​the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.

Essentially, for the needs assessment, school districts or institutions conduct a research project to identify their unique needs and then submit a summary of those needs as part of their local application to their state in order to be eligible for funding.

Why conduct a needs assessment? The reasoning, according to Chris Zook, who writes for the Applied Education Systems, is simple.

“Every locality experiences different challenges and diverse people, meaning they also have different economies,” he explains.

Perkins funding by state

One way you might find your specific state’s application for Perkins Grant funding is by visiting the website of the agency in your state that oversees career and technical education (for example, the Department of Education or Community College System). Look for the career and technical education section, and search for “Perkins Grant application.”

Deadlines for Perkins Grant funding applications are also dependent on your specific state. Some states also have portals you can fill out to submit your applications.

Here is information on Perkins funding for some states (click links below):
New York
North Carolina
Rhode Island

Additional information & resources on Perkins funding
Allowable and Unallowable Uses of Perkins Funds
Perkins Allowable and Unallowable Expenditures
Perkins Career and Technical Education Primer
Perkins V FAQs
Perkins V Implementation: Understanding Federal Funding for CTE
Fact Sheet: What is the Perkins CTE
State Formula Grants
Perkins State Plans and Data Explorer