Grants & Funding
Apr 29 2020
What’s in This Article
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 25, 2020, and is the largest emergency stimulus package ever passed in the United States.
The package’s $2.2 trillion provides emergency assistance to individuals, businesses, state and local governments, and public services. Funding for K-12 schools and higher education falls under the local government portion of the act.
These funds will be distributed through the Department of Education to students, K-12 schools, and higher education institutions. This portion of the CARES Act is called the Education Stabilization Fund.
$30.75 billion of the CARES Act’s $2.2 trillion has been set aside for supporting education. The $30.75 billion breaks down into the following three relief funds.
The Education Stimulus Fund is expected to start disbursing money to states beginning in late May through June. At this time, the funds must be spent by Sept. 2021.
The funding states will receive will vary significantly because it’s based largely on the number of Title I (K-12) and Pell Grant (higher education) students in each state. So, the more Title I and Pell Grant students a state has, the more funding they’ll receive.
In addition to the Education Stabilization Fund, the $2.2 trillion CARES Act has the following funding programs that will help support children during this time.
The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSERF) includes $13.2 billion of the Education Stabilization Fund’s total $30.75 billion. Each state will receive a share of the $13.2 billion.
Funding will be distributed from the Department of Education to State Educational Agencies (SEAS). Then, those state agencies will distribute funds to Local Education Agencies (LEAS). In short, funds will trickle down from a federal level to a state level and finally to a local level.
State agencies must allocate a minimum of 90% of awarded funds to local agencies and reserve a maximum of 0.5% of funds for administrative costs. Any remaining funds can be reserved for emergency needs that arise due to COVID-19 closures.
What schools can purchase using ESSER funding is very flexible. Essentially, K-12 schools can use their funding to purchase anything that helps support students and staff during this time. Funds must be spent by Sept. 2021.
Here’s the full list of purchases that qualify for the ESSERF.
Districts can use their ESSERF funding to purchase online learning platforms to help make distance learning easier for both teachers and students. And as schools begin to reintroduce classroom instruction on either a part-time or full-time basis, online learning platforms can help during that transition, too.
The K-12 stabilization money can be used to provide students with wifi and devices like computers and tablets to help improve access to distance learning. However, the package doesn’t provide additional funding for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-Rate program. Many schools already use the e-rate program for internet and technology efforts all year round, but additional funding for this program was left out of the stimulus package.
The Higher Education Relief Fund (HEERF) includes $12.6 billion of the Education Stabilization Fund’s total $30.75 billion. Each state will receive a share of the $12.6 billion.
Higher education institutions need to apply for HEERF through the Department of Education’s grants.gov website. In order to apply, institutions will need to complete the following:
For contact information and full instructions on how to apply for HEER Funds, visit this web page.
To find how much funding is available for your postsecondary institution, search for funding HEERF allocations by school.
The CARES Act requires higher education recipients to use at least 50% of the funds they receive on emergency financial aid grants for students.
These emergency financial grants can be used on expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus including:
Up to 50% of funds can be used at the discretion of the higher education institution. It’s unclear at this time what these funds can be used for but it’s expected the allowable purchases will be flexible. The Department of Education plans to provide a list of FAQs to address the allowable uses of funds once the funds have been made available to institutions.
At this time, the stimulus package doesn’t directly address remote learning needs at the higher education level. However, students are allowed to use their grant funding on any course materials, computers, and technology needs they may have as a result of distance learning.
Until the Department of Education releases more information about what institutions can purchase using HEERF funding, it’s unclear what will be allowable at a college and university level.
At SolidProfessor, online learning is what we do best.
We’re here to help schools at all levels keep their engineering, architectural, and manufacturing design programs going strong, especially during a time when schools across the nation have been required to transition to distance learning. And, yes, you can use CARES Act Education Stimulus Funds to purchase SolidProfessor for your school.
As many schools plan to continue distance learning in the fall, SolidProfessor can help make teaching online easier. Here are a few of the things you can do with a SolidProfessor membership:
When you’re finally able to transition back to normal, our platform can seamlessly be used in conjunction with classroom instruction, too.
We’re here to answer your questions! Schedule a time to speak with your state’s Academic Product Specialist to learn more.
About the Author
SolidProfessor content writer and self-appointed World’s Greatest Dog Mom