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Federal Funding for Education: A Simple Guide to Funding Types

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Federal Funding for Education: A Simple Guide to Funding Types

*UPDATED 3-18-2021

As a teacher or administrator, securing federal funding for your school is one of the most complex parts of the job—but it’s also one of the most beneficial. 

Studies show that better funded schools serve their students more effectively than schools with less funding. Increased educational funding enables educators to provide a more equitable education to students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. We also see time and time again that funding is never wasted in schools; there’s always a need for more funding, and students and teachers always directly benefit from it. 

According to a 2016 study: From 1990 to 2011, states that allocated more funding to schools with higher poverty rates narrowed their achievement gaps by approximately one-fifth. (Lafortune, Rothstein, Schanzenbach, 2016)

We understand funding is a challenge these days. If you’re researching how to optimize federal funding in your school, we’ve put together a quick overview of different types of government funding for PreK-12 education. 

Types of Federal Funding for Education: 

  1. ARP Act. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319) was enacted on March 11, 2021—a $1.9 trillion government funding coronavirus emergency relief package. As part of the Act, over $3 billion allocated to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), over $7 billion in Emergency Connectivity Fund an additional $122.8 billion was allocated to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER “ESSER III” Fund). 
  2. CRRSA Act. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), 2021 was enacted on December 27, 2020—a $900 billion COVID-19 Relief Package and a $1.7 trillion government funding package. As part of the CRRSA Act, an additional $54.3 billion was allocated to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER II Fund). The CRRSA Act: ESSER II Fund is more than four times the initial awards to State educational agencies (SEAs) under the CARES Act: ESSER Fund.
  3. CARES Act. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a $2 trillion package of assistance measures, including $30.75 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund. As part of the Education Stabilization Fund, 43.9% ($13.23 billion) was allocated to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER). 
  4. Title I (Part A). provides funding to schools with a high percentage of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards. And, Title I (Part A, Section 1003g) provides funding to the lowest-performing schools to raise the achievement of students.
  5. Title II.  Provides funding to support effective instruction and improve the quality of educators and administrators in our nation’s school systems.
  6. Title III. Provides funding to schools to advance the education of English Learners (ELs), ensuring these students can achieve English language proficiency, while meeting academic standards.
  7. Title IV (Part A). provides funding opportunities for students to have access to a well-rounded education, to improve the use of technology for student achievement, and to improve engagement in STEM activities. And, Title IV (Part B) provides funding opportunities for a wide-array of activities to advance student achievement such as after-school programs, summer school programs, digital learning, family involvement, and other forms of learning and remediation beyond the traditional school day.
  8. IDEA. Provides funding opportunities for the education of students with special needs and disabilities, to support early intervention and to improve the use of technology in the classroom for special education.

How Federal Funding is Allocated to Schools 

According to the U.S. Constitution, individual states maintain responsibility for K-12 education. While states are responsible for funding their public schools, the federal government provides assistance to states in order to supplement public education and traditionally contributes about 8% of the elementary and secondary education funds received per school year.

This is where federal funding for schools comes in. The federal government distributes funds to the state, and the state provides those funds to local education agencies through grants and programs. 

The main sources of federal education funding programs are:

  1. Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): Supplements state and local resources and supports students from low-income families and low-achieving schools.
  2. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities.
  3. Emergency/Critical Needs: Funds issued through relief stimulus packages such as the CARES Act, CRRSA Act, ARPA Act, and Other Emergency Funds when critical needs arise. 

Each type of federal funding is geared toward districts with high populations of a certain type of students. This is intended to help those districts achieve certain educational goals. For example: Title I schools have high populations of students from low-income families, while IDEA schools have high populations of students with disabilities.

The main agency of the federal government is the U.S. Department of Education, and it offers two kinds of grants:

  • Formula grants: Uses general, yet complex formulas determined by Congress and has no application process. These formulas are based on a variety of factors such as the number of students in each district, types of students served, local tax efforts and community poverty levels and determine how much funding each school gets from each type of educational funding. 
  • Discretionary grants: Uses either formulas or determinations based on submitted applications and is awarded through a competitive process. 

How to Use Each Type of Federal Funding for Education

 

ARP ESSER Fund (“ESSER III”): Provides additional emergency relief funding to States and school districts to safely reopen schools, address learning loss through the implementations of evidence-based interventions and activities for students’ academic, social and emotional needs, purchase education technology and offer summer learning, extended day/year programs and afterschool programs. This emergency relief fund provides over $122.8 billion to Title I schools across the country. 

The  ARP ESSER Fund (“ESSER III”) dollars will be appropriated swiftly to State Education Agencies (SEAs) with grant awards expected to be made to SEAs during March 2021. The formulas used are based on the most recent fiscal year Title I-A shares, with 90% of the funds to be allocated by SEAs to local education agencies (LEAs) that received a Title I-A allocation in the most recent fiscal year and the remaining 10% may be applied for a reserve fund by each respective SEA. 

The ESSER III Funds can be used in the same fashion as the CARES/ESSER I Fund and CRRSA/ESSER II Fund with additional emphasis* on:  

•    Address learning loss through the implementation of evidence-based interventions and activities to ensure they respond to students’ academic, social and emotional needs through*:

  • Summer learning or summer enrichment*
  • Extended day*
  • Comprehensive afterschool programs*
  • Extended school year programs*

•    Measuring and addressing learning loss*

•    Safely reopening schools*

•    Activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, and other students with high needs.

•    Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the LEAs.  Any many other allowable uses (see Sec. 2001 of the H.R. 1319 bill).

Qualifying Imagine Learning products: 


ESSER II Fund (CRRSA Act): Provides additional emergency relief funding to States and school districts to address and measure learning loss, purchase education technology, offer summer and after school programs, and safely re-open schools.

The ESSER II Fund dollars was appropriated to SEAs with grant awards made to SEAs during January 2021. The formulas used were based on the 2020 Title I shares, with 90% of the funds to be allocated to local education agencies (LEAs) that received a Title I allocation in the most recent fiscal year and the remaining 10% may be applied for a reserve fund by each respective SEA. This emergency relief fund provides over $54.3 billion to Title I schools across the country.

SEAs must award the ESSER II Funds received to LEAs by January 2022 and all obligations of the funds (i.e., commits the funds to specific purposes) must be expended by September 30, 2023. The CARES Act/ESSER Funds should be used before making use of the CRRSA Act/ESSER II Funds.

The ESSER II Funds can be used in the same fashion as the CARES Act/ESSER Fund with additional emphasis on: 
•    Measuring and addressing learning loss
•    Preparing schools for reopening
•    Restoring and maintaining high-quality learning environments
 

Qualifying Imagine Learning products:

CARES Act

ESSER Fund (CARES Act): Provides emergency relief funding opportunities for immediate needs, such as tools and resources for distance education that will support remote learning for all students, especially disadvantaged or at-risk students, and their teachers. The ESSER Fund was appropriated to state education agencies (SEAs) with grant awards made to SEAs during April-June 2020. SEAs must award the funds received to LEAs within one year of the award date and all obligations of the funds (i.e., commits the funds to specific purposes) must be expended by September 30, 2022. This emergency relief fund provides over $13.23 billion to Title I schools across the country.

The U.S. Department of Education encourages local education agencies to “target ESSER funding on activities that will support remote learning for all students, especially disadvantaged or at-risk students, and their teachers”.

Qualifying Imagine Learning products:

Title 1

Title I: Part A. Schools must have a population of at least 40% low-income students and help those students in order to use Title I funds. This type of funding must be used to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards and to raise the achievement of students in their lowest-performing schools. They may also be used to provide these services for eligible students enrolled in private schools. This fund provides nearly $16 billion a year to schools across the country.

Qualifying Imagine Learning products:

Title 2

Title II: Part A. These funds must be used to enhance professional development in schools. This means funding teacher improvement initiatives (such as teacher trainings, recruitment, and retention) in order to improve students’ academic achievement. This fund provides over $2 billion a year to schools across the country. 

Qualifying Imagine Learning products:

Title 3

Title III: Part A. This type of educational funding must be used to directly benefit EL students. Title III funding is intended to provide opportunities for EL students to meet academic state standards. This fund provides over $737 million to schools across the country.

Qualifying Imagine Learning products:

Title 4

Title IV: This federal program includes two key programs:

  • Title IV (Part A) is generally known to provide students with access to a well-rounded education with activities to improve the use of technology to improve the academic achievement and digital literacy and improve instruction and engagement in STEM programming and activities. This fund provides over $1.17 billion to schools across the country.
  • Title IV (Part B) is generally known as 21st Century Community Learning Centers and Afterchool Programs and covers a broad array of activities such as the use of technology education programs, digital learning, mathematics and science education activities, remedial education, before-and after-school activities (including summer recess), after-school activities for limited English proficient students and promoting family involvement and family literacy. This fund provides over $1.2 billion to schools across the country.

Qualifying Imagine Learning products:

IDEA

IDEA:  These funds must be used for special education and related services for children with disabilities. This includes costs for special education personnel, related therapists and psychologists, materials and supplies for students with disabilities, improving the use of technology in the classroom (i.e.,  specialized equipment and devices) and even supporting early-intervention services for early learners and youth with disabilities.  This fund provides over $13.45 billion to schools across the country.

Qualifying Imagine Learning products:

Read More: How To Use Federal Funding for Imagine Learning Products 

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