Education in the CARES Act
Did you know the CARES Act has a special provision and spending directly related to education? The Education Stabilization Fund makes up $30.75 billion of the relief package passed by Congress on March 27th . Nebraska will receive $16,357,685 for elementary and secondary education through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund. This amount was set by a statutory formula based on Nebraska’s student-aged population and poverty levels. Unlike other provisions of the CARES Act, the education funding gives states tremendous flexibility in how they use these federal grants.
Here is an excerpt from the letter sent from Betsy DeVos to all Governors:
This extraordinarily flexible emergency block grant empowers you to decide how best to meet the current needs of students, schools (including charter schools and non-public schools), postsecondary institutions, and other education-related organizations in your State so that faculty continue to teach and students continue to learn. My Department will not micromanage how you spend these funds, but I encourage you, at a time when so many school boards, superintendents, and institutions of higher education have had to close their brick and mortar campuses for the balance of the school year, to focus these resources on ensuring that all students continue to learn most likely through some form of remote learning. They and their families are depending on your leadership to ensure that they don’t fall behind.
On another note, there are lots of changes that need to be implemented to make the relief legislation a better solution for these unprecedented times. For example, 529 plans are a college savings plan that can also be used for K-12 tuition and offers tax and financial aid benefits for families. Nebraska’s 529 is called NEST. Yesterday, (4/15) Representative Bryan Steil from Wisconsin issued a letter asking his colleagues in Congress to expand 529 education savings accounts so that they can be used for expenses related to learning from home during the pandemic.