At the height of the 2020 pandemic, tensions rose as we navigated the turbulent issues surrounding our health and the state of the economy. Luckily, there were measures put in place to help most of the population. With the legislative passing of the CARES Act, various sectors were granted stimulus aid to help fund even the most basic of necessities. As part of the package, billions of dollars of stimulus funding was authorized for the educational system, creating new potential opportunities. So, how can these education stimulus funds be accessed by those who need them in both K-12 and higher learning institutions?

We’ve put together an informative guide to walk you through how education stimulus aid is distributed amongst multiple relief packages, how to qualify, and how to apply for your share.


The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on December 27th, 2020. The act established the Education Stabilization Fund (ESF) which granted over $30 billion to the U.S. Department of Education. This act contains two major sources of emergency funding for K-12 schools. 

1. The ESSER Fund

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund designated $13.2 billion of the CARES Act to K-12 schools. They are primarily grant-based and can be spent on a variety of activities, services, and goods. 

 2. The GEER Fund

This fund grants governors the flexibility to fund educational needs brought on by the pandemic on a local basis.


In December of 2020, Congress enacted a second round of federal funding for public schools. An additional $54.3 billion was authorized for the initial ESSER Fund, now referred to as the “CARES ACT II”.

American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

The most recent stimulus funding for education came in March 2021 when Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act. Roughly $125 billion was granted to the K-12 education system and nearly $40 billion for the higher education system. 

Your school or district likely qualifies for dollars under one or more of these pieces of legislation. For detailed guidance on how to access these education funds, take a look at our free Guide on How to Access Educational Stimulus Funds.