Legislative Update: CTE Increase in FY21 Appropriations and COVID-19 Stimulus Package

In the final days of 2020, the full Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) appropriations bill and COVID-19 (coronavirus) relief package were signed into law. Read below to learn more about what this means for Career Technical Education (CTE) and education funding. 

Congress Increases CTE Funding for FY21

Last week the omnibus bill that was passed by Congress to provide federal funding for the remainder of FY21- which includes Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed)- was signed into law by the president. Importantly, this included an increase of $52.25 million for the Perkins basic state grant, bringing the total to approximately $1.334 billion. Overall, the bill included an increase of approximately $785 million for education programs and an increase of approximately $122 million for labor programs.  

Stimulus Bill Provides Funding for Education 

In the final days of 2020, Congress passed and the president signed into law a new $900 billion COVID-19 (coronavirus) stimulus package. This bill includes close to $82 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund that was created to prevent, prepare for and respond to the pandemic. The Education Stabilization Fund is broken down into three categories that follow the structure of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was passed in March 2020. 

  • Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, $54.3 billion
    This funding goes to states through the state education agency (SEA) using the approved application from implementation of the CARES Act. Funding will be allocated to each state per Title I Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). At least 90% of funds will be directed to local education agencies (LEAs) in the proportional amount to what’s received under Title I Part A of ESEA. Activities authorized by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) is one of the authorized uses of the ESSER Fund, as well as Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Title VII Subtitle B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, the Native Hawaiian Education Act and the Alaska Native Educational Equity, Support and Assistance Act. Additional allowable uses of funds include activities such as: purchasing educational technology; professional development; addressing learning loss and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English language learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness and students in foster care. Reporting by the state on use of these funds is required within six months of receipt of funds.U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced on Tuesday that funding has been made available for the ESSER Fund. State allocations can be found here. The Education Stabilization Fund Portal will track how states and districts are spending this money.
  • Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund, $22.7 billion
    This funding will go directly to institutions of higher education for costs associated with coronavirus response and to provide financial aid to students. Funding will be allocated to institutions in the following way: 89% to public and private non-profit institutions through a formula that takes into consideration factors such as Federal Pell Grant recipients; 7.5% for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs); 0.5% for institutions with unmet needs related to the pandemic, as determined through an application process; and 3% for institutions under Section 102(b) of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Uses of these funds include activities such as defraying costs associated with the pandemic, carrying out student supports authorized by HEA to address needs related to the pandemic and financial aid to students. $1.7 billion of the HEER Fund is dedicated to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and MSIs.  
  • Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, $4.1 billion
    Governors are able to use this funding for early childhood education, K-12 education or higher education. $2.5 billion of the GEER Fund is dedicated to Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools. State distribution is split 60% by the population of individuals ages 5 through 24 and 40% by individuals counted under section 1124(c) of ESEA. GEER funding can be used for purposes including: providing emergency support to LEAs selected by the SEA in order to continue providing education services and to support the LEA; providing emergency support grants to institutions of higher education and to provide support to any other institution of higher education, LEA or related entity.

Some additional provisions in the stimulus package include $7 billion for broadband access and $30 million for student aid administration. 

Through this bill Pell Grant eligibility is restored for formerly incarcerated individuals. Advance CTE has been advocating for this policy change, and is pleased to see the removal of the Pell Grant ban.  

The bill’s maintenance of effort provision requires that states keep the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) funding at least at the percentage of the state budget for the average of FY17, FY18 and FY19.  

Advance CTE will continue to monitor implementation and provide updates on future guidance. 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

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