IDEA - Allowable Costs

For a particular cost to be allowed, it must be an excess cost of providing special education and related services. Only allowed costs may be charged to the flow-through or preschool entitlement grants.

For a particular cost to be allowed, it also must be necessary and reasonable for proper and efficient performance and administration of the grant. A cost is reasonable if it does not exceed what a district would normally incur in the absence of federal funds. Additional guidance about standards for determining costs for federal grants is available from Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-87 (through June 30, 2015).

Any individual charged to a federal grant must keep time and effort reporting whether or not it is a semi-annual certification or monthly personnel activity reports (PAR). Semi-annual certification is completed by those individuals who have a single cost object; monthly personnel activity reports are completed by individuals who have multiple cost objectives. Under IDEA, any individual who is not 100% special education would need to complete monthly PARs. Time and effort reporting are a part of the allowable costs as defined by the Office of Management and Budget (through June 30, 2015).

Allowable Costs Guidance

Flow-through and Budget Allowables

Designed in a chart format, this 17-page document lists items in alphabetical order and provides clear and concise information on types of costs that are either allowed or not allowed under the IDEA grant

Reporting Fraud, Waste or Abuse of IDEA Funds

Contains contact information for the US Inspector General and a description of whistle blower protection rights.

Indirect Cost Recovery

Indirect Cost Recovery Recorded Webinar
This document provides an overview of indirect cost recovery using federal grant funds as well as providing a link to step-by-step instructions for budgeting and claiming indirect cost recovery through the IDEA, Title I, II, and III grant budget software programs. 

Allocating Software Costs 

This document provides guidance on how software programs, used by multiple departments, may be allocated to IDEA flow-through. 

Funding Special Education Costs from Multiple Sources

Funding Activities with IDEA and State Special Education Categorical Aid

One-page document that describes the relationship between allowable costs that can be funded with both IDEA grant dollars and state special education categorical aid.

Contracting for Special Education Services - Private and Public Vendors

Private Vendor Contracted Instructional Services (eligible for special education aid)

Two Wisconsin Acts, 2011 Act 105 and 2013 Act 255, amended WI Stat. §115.88(1) to expand the types of private vendor contractual services eligible for state special education categorical aid to include substitute teachers, paraprofessionals (aides),orientation and mobility training services, educational interpreter services, educational audiology, speech therapy, and pupil transition services for students ages 18 to 21.
These contracted services are now eligible for state categorical aid reimbursement (special education and high cost) and may also be charged to the IDEA grant. LEAs should be aware that all LEA employed staff or privately contracted staff must be highly qualified and hold appropriate licensure to be eligible for state categorical aid or IDEA reimbursement.

Contract Provisions

LEAs may purchase services with IDEA funds, including administration of IDEA grants, through written contracts valid under state law. This document lists provisions to include in such contracts, as applicable, including provisions required by federal regulations governing procurement practices.

Pupil Transportation

Special Education Transportation Overview

This document provides a thorough analysis on when a transportation route actually is "specialized" and thus eligible for state or federal special education aid. It identifies costs that are eligible for state or federal special education aid when the services are provided on a regular transportation route. The document also addresses students without disabilities being transported on a dedicated specialized transportation route. 

Categorical Aid Reimbursement for Eligible Transportation Costs

This is a very thorough technical assistance document that addresses the types of transportation costs that are eligible for state special education categorical aid when a student's IEP identifies transportation as a related service. The document helpfully identifies costs by object. It also provides examples of transportation routes and when costs within those routes are eligible for state special education aid. This document also outlines the necessary steps for ensuring that a vehicle purchased solely for special education purposes is eligible for state special education categorical aid reimbursement. 

Equipment and Other Capital Costs

Instructions for Requesting Non-Capital Equipment and Items Under Capital Objects

Three-page document that describes the information an LEA must provide through the IDEA budget when requesting funds for equipment and other capital objects. A brief description of monitoring property is included.

Instructions for requesting remodeling projects in IDEA budgets

Costs associated with remodeling due to the unique needs of a student or students with a disability are allowable under IDEA grants. A project is considered “remodeling” rather than “construction” if the alterations are to a previously completed building and the cost of the project is $100,000 or less. This is a short technical assistance document that provides the user with step-by-step instructions for requesting remodeling costs through the IDEA budget software.

LEA Application for Construction or Alteration of Facilities Over $100,000 using IDEA funds, PI-3208, Print Copy / Fillable

​Costs for construction or alteration of facilities must be excess costs of special education. A project must meet the needs of one or more children with disabilities. Costs for the general purpose of bringing facilities into compliance with Section 504 and ADA requirements are not allowed. LEAs must have prior approval from DPI to use IDEA funds for construction. Approval is gained by submitting a completed application.

Questions on Allowable Costs may be directed to Rachel Zellmer 

Further questions regarding IDEA Flow-through and Preschool Entitlement budgets should be directed to the DPI special education consultant assigned to the district. A listing of consultant assignments can be located at