ESSER Funding Restrictions



In March of 2021, the U.S Congress passed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, providing an additional $122 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding. This funding, coupled with the CARES Act (Passed March 2020) and CRRSA Act (Passed December 2020) ESSER funds brings the total ESSER funding to $190 billion to help education agencies at the state and local level address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

CARES and CRRSA Funding Restrictions

ESSER funding comes with a lot of flexibility in how State Education Agencies (SEAs) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) can spend these funds. However, it is important to remember there are some restrictions on how these funds can be used. CARES Act and CRRSA Act ESSER funds include a long list of allowable uses of these funds, including the catch-all use of “Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in the LEA.” The one major restriction on how ESSER funds may be used is that they must be used to address issues that have been caused or exacerbated by the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. 

ARP Funding Restrictions

The ARP Act has some additional restrictions on how the ARP Act ESSER funding must be used. SEAs may reserve up to 10% of the ESSER funds provided to the state and at least 90% must be granted to LEAs. Of the 10% of SEA ARP Act ESSER funds reserved by the SEA, half, or 5% of the total ESSER funds, must be used to address learning loss, 1% to provide summer enrichment programs, and 1% to provide afterschool programs. The remaining ARP Act ESSER funds at the SEA level (and all SEA funds reserved under the CARES Act and CRRSA Act) may be used “for emergency needs as determined by the state educational agency to address issues responding to coronavirus”. 

There is also a restriction at the LEA level for ARP Act ESSER funding. “LEAs shall reserve not less than 20 percent of such funds to address learning loss through the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year programs, and ensure that such interventions respond to students’ academic, social, and emotional needs and address the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on the student subgroups”. The remaining LEA ARP Act ESSER funding (as well as CARES Act and CRRSA Act ESSER funds) may be used to address issues that have been caused or exacerbated by the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. 

So, 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). 

To learn more, take a look at this ebook that details federal funding usage for Transportation Departments under ESSER, or contact a team member to learn more about how these products can serve 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.