ESSER Funding Provides Billions of Needed Dollars


The question has been asked, “Is Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding enough?” The answer is likely yes. It is a lot of money!  

The three COVID-19 relief funding bills were passed over the course of a single year. In March of 2021, the U.S Congress passed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act providing $122 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding. This funding, coupled with the Coronarvirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (passed March 2020) and CRRSA Act (passed December 2020) brings the total ESSER funding to about $190 billion to help education agencies at the state and local level address the educational impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

For comparison, Title I funding is about $16.5 billion annually. The CARES ACT - ESSER I funds provided $13.5 billion for K-12 education. The CRRSA Act - ESSER II funds provided 4x that, in the amount of $54 billion. And the ARP Act ESSER funds provided $122 billion in ESSER III funds. All totaled, the amount of ESSER funds approved over the span of one year is more than 10 times the amount of funding provided to Title I annually. 

Take Note: Expiration Date

It is important to remember that ESSER funds are one-time funds, which means that when these funds run out, they will not be replaced or provided annually like Title I funds. ESSER funds also have expiration dates, meaning that states and districts must spend these funds by certain dates. CARES Act ESSER funds expire on September 30, 2022. This means they must be obligated to be spent no later than September 30, 2022 and must be spent by December 31, 2022. CARES Act ESSER funds that have not been spent by December 31, 2022, must be returned to the U.S. Department of Education (USED). CRRSA Act ESSER funds have the same expiration and spending dates in 2023 (9/30 and 12/31) and ARP Act ESSER funds have the same expiration and spending dates in 2024. 

Great! How Can My District Use These Funds?

Districts have a lot of flexibility on how they can use CRRSAA funds. The fact that districts can use CRRSAA funds for any ESSA activity - “Any activity authorized by the ESEA” means that districts can use these funds to purchase products from the TransACT family of products, including ParentNotices, AfterSchool21TravelTracker-Routing, FacilityTracker, and Homeless Information Management System for Students (HIMSS). 

Take a look at this webinar that highlights how our software helps school districts remain legally compliant with the law with an ESSER-eligible product, or contact a team member to learn more about how these products can serve other real needs in your district today. 

Dr. David Holbrook

About The Author

Dr. David Holbrook is a nationally recognized leader in federal programs administration and monitoring with expertise in Title I, Title III, Native American Education, and Federal Programs. Dr. Holbrook has also worked as a consultant with Title III of the US Department of Education and now serves as Executive Director, Federal Compliance and State Relationships with TransACT Communications.