The massive Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or the “CARES” Act, included funding and regulatory flexibility provisions focused specifically on schools and students. Highlights of the funding provision are summarized below.
On March 27, 2020, the Congressional Research Service provided an estimated State Grants Under the Education Stabilization Fund (ESF) included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES –H.R. 748).
The ESF is composed of (1) a Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund, (2) an Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, and (3) a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund based on an overall appropriations level of $30.750 billion. The allocation for the three emergency relief funds are as follows:
- 9.8% for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund ($2,953,230,000);
- 43.9% for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund ($13,229,265,000); and
- 46.3% for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund ($13,952,505,000).
In order to access the state education stabilization fund, states would first have to agree to provide funding to education in fiscal years 2021 and 2022 that’s at least the same as the average of their education funding over the three prior fiscal years. However, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos could waive that requirement for the purpose of relieving fiscal burdens on states that have experienced a precipitous decline in financial resources. (section 18008)
Section 18006 stipulates that a local educational agency, State, institution of higher education, or other entity that receives funds under “Education Stabilization Fund”, shall to the greatest extent practicable, continue to pay its employees and contractors during the period of any disruptions or closures related to coronavirus.
Florida’s Education Stabilization Fund Estimated Allocation = $1.7 billion
Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (section 18002 of the Act)
Florida’s Estimated Allocation = $173.7 million
Highlights of funding purposes include providing emergency support through grants to local education agencies (LEA’s) that the state education agency deems has been most significantly impacted by the Coronavirus to support the on-going function of the LEA and higher education institutions as determined by the Governor and provide support to any other institution of higher education, LEA or education-related entity that the Governor deems essential for carrying out emergency education services, including provisions of child care, early childhood education and the protection of education-related jobs.
This relief fund will be allocated to each state with an approved application and will be allocated to each eligible state as follows: 1) 60% on the basis of their relative population of individuals aged 5-24 and 2) 40% on the basis of their relative number of children counted under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (section 18003 of the Act)
Florida’s Estimated Allocation = $770.2 million
The U.S. Secretary of Education will make elementary and secondary school emergency relief grants to each SEA with an approved allocation. Each state must allocate not less than 90% of the grant funds to local LEA’s (including charter schools that are LEA’s). These funds can be used for any allowable purpose authorized under ESEA, IDEA Act, Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, Carl Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, or the McKinney-Vento homeless Assistance Act. Funds may also be used for preparedness and response, to provide principals and other school leaders with resources necessary to address the needs of individual schools and specific student groups, purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities of LEA’s minimizing the spread of infectious diseases, planning for upcoming months, technology purchasing (hardware, software, connectivity), mental health services, summer and after school activities including online, and “other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services and continuing to employ existing staff of the local educational agency”.
This relief fund will be awarded to states based on their relative shares of grants awarded under Title I-A of the ESEA for the most recent fiscal year.
Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (section 18004 of the Act)
Florida’s Estimated Allocation = 760.8 million
An institution of higher education receiving funds under this section may use the funds received to cover any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus, so long as such costs do not include payment to contractors for the provision of pre-enrollment recruitment activities; endowments; or capital outlays associated with facilities related to athletics, sectarian instruction, or religious worship. Institutions of higher education shall use no less than 50 percent of such funds to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care). A Historically Black College and University or a Minority Serving Institution may use prior awards provided under titles III, V, and VII of the Higher Education Act to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
Ninety percent of the funds will be awarded to institutions of higher education (IHEs) on two formula factors: (1) 75% of the funds will be awarded to IHEs based on each IHE’s share of full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment of Pell Grant recipients who were not enrolled exclusive in distance education prior to the coronavirus emergency, relative to the total FTE enrollment of such individuals in all IHE’s; and (2) 25% of the funds will be awarded to IHEs based on each IHE’s share of FTE enrollment of students who were not PELL Grant recipients and who were not enrolled exclusively in distance education prior to the coronavirus emergency, relative to the total FTE enrollment of such individuals in all IHEs.
For further information on these topics, visit the House Committee on Education and Labor Fact Sheet.