By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Staff Reporter
An additional batch of state reports have been released detailing how agencies plan to utilize a subset of federal funds provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, with nearly all states pledging investments in internet connectivity, and others outlining scholarship funds and specific program investments.
There are now 31 state plans available, with the latest batch joining an initial six detailed reports that were released earlier in August. The documents highlight how states will comply with aid received from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, which received $3 billion from the total $30 billion for education programs under the CARES Act. The law specifically called for governors to submit plans for how they would aid K-12 schools and institutions of higher education that are “most significantly” impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
States could only be eligible for funding if they filled out an agreement form from the Department of Education (ED) that asked whether the state intended to use portions of the award for remote learning techniques and technologies, with each state given considerable flexibility in implementing those plans.
In order to promote the continuation of online learning with the continued prevalence of the novel coronavirus, most states sought to utilize funding for internet connectivity and broadband.
Nebraska, for example, plans to use up to 70% of its award for purchasing internet devices for all high schools in the state, with additional grades to be considered if funds remain.
Oregon aims to use part of its award to improve the quality of courses delivered remotely through course redesign, and identifying online platforms where high-quality courses can be made available to students across the state, regardless of primary institution.
States also outlined investments for need-based scholarships and higher education programs.
In Colorado, the governor pledged $1 million for ensuring that all students with financial need receive direct support from institutions of higher education.
“The Governor’s office plans to utilize a portion of GEER funds to provide resources to institutions of higher education to help ensure students with financial need receive the support they need to weather this crisis,” the state report read. “Funds will be provided to students with financial need who did not receive support under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Grant.”
The Office of Higher Education in Connecticut plans to allocate $6.9 million to provide need-based scholarships to students to attend institutions within the state.
More specifically, Minnesota will allocate funds to promote “equity in education” with targeted support of teacher preparation programs and postsecondary faculty, in addition to addressing technology and remote learning needs for underserved students.
Currently only a single state, Montana, has declined receiving the federal funds.
Report updates are available on ED’s certifications and agreements page, which has been updated regularly.
States were given 45 days following their grant award date to submit initial reports on how they planned to distribute GEER funding. All deadlines have been well past due, and less than two dozen state plans remain unsubmitted.
Publication Date: 9/2/2020
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