The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) ensures a free and appropriate education for students with disabilities in the US, necessitating services tailored to their needs. However, these specialized services come at a higher cost. To manage these expenses, some states like California use the census funding model, allotting aid based mainly on total district enrollment and a fixed amount per student, independent of specific program characteristics. A new policy brief delves into the pros and cons of this method and discusses ways to address its drawbacks. Advantages include simplicity, legal compliance, adaptability, potential cost-effective placements, and preventing over-identification of disabilities. Yet, there are concerns about inequitable funding, potential inadequacy over time, disincentivizing quality services, and jeopardizing legal protections if students aren't identified. The authors suggest considering adjustments based on regional factors, poverty, disability rates, and monitoring changes to achieve fairness. They also advocate for exploring cost-effective program delivery and weighing alternatives for special education funding structures to better support students while managing costs.