Appropriates approximately $170 billion for education, including more than $122 billion for elementary and secondary education and $39.5 billion for postsecondary education.
Provides $330 million in funding to establish new approved graduate medical residency training programs and to expand existing programs.
Sets aside $80 million for grants or contracts to health professions schools, academic health centers, and other entities to plan, develop, operate or participate in training activities for reducing and addressing suicide, burnout, medical health conditions, and substance use disorders among health care professionals.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP)—the latest coronavirus-related stimulus legislation signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021—appropriates more than $122 billion for elementary and secondary education and almost $40 billion for institutions of higher education (IHEs). These funds are in addition to the relief funding allocated under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, as described here and here, as well as under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA), as described here. Funds appropriated under the ARP will remain available through September 30, 2023.  

The ARP’s education-related provisions are primarily contained in Title II, Subtitle A, Part 1 of the law and include the following:

  • Section 2001. Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund: Provides an additional $122 billion that will remain available through September 30, 2023.

-  Similar to the CARES Act, ESSER funds will be allocated to States for distribution to local educational agencies (LEAs) in proportion to the amount of funds such agencies received under part A of title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 in the most recent fiscal year.

-  Funds may be applied toward a number of uses, including uses already contained in Section 18003(a) of the CARES Act, as well as purchases of supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities of an LEA and the inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities.

-  Additionally, not less than five percent of funds under Section 2001 shall be used to carry out, directly or through grants or contracts, activities to address learning loss by supporting the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as summer learning, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year programs.

  • Section 2002. Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools: Provides $2.75 billion for allocations to state governors for services or assistance to non-public schools that enroll a significant percentage of low-income students and are most impacted by the qualifying emergency.
  • Section 2003. Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund: Provides an additional $39.5 billion to the Department of Education (ED) to be distributed to IHEs according to a formula similar to that of the CARES Act.
  • Section 2004. Maintenance of Effort and Maintenance of Equity: As a condition of receiving funds under Section 2001, a state shall maintain support for elementary and secondary education, and for higher education, in each of the fiscal years 2022 and 2023 at least at the proportional levels of such state’s support for elementary, secondary, and higher education relative to that state’s overall spending, averaged over the fiscal years 2017, 2018, and 2019. Additionally, a state shall not, in fiscal year 2022 or 2023, reduce state funding for any high-need LEA in the state by an amount that exceeds the overall per-pupil reduction in state funds across all LEAs in that state in that fiscal year.
  • Section 2005. Outlying Areas: Provides $850 million for allocation of awards to Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other outlying areas based on the Secretary’s determination of need.
  • Sections 2006, 2008, 2009. Additional Funding for Certain Institutions: Provides additional funding for several select institutions to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including: $19.25 million for the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School, the Model Secondary School for the Deaf, and Gallaudet University; $35 million for Howard University; and $19.25 million for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
  • Sections 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012. Additional Funding for Education Department: The ARP includes appropriations for functions within ED, including $91.13 million for Student Aid Administration (provides funds to administer the Federal student financial assistance programs), $100 million for the Institute of Education Sciences (the statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education), $15 million for Program Administration, and $5 million for ED’s Office of Inspector General for salaries and expenses necessary for oversight, investigations, and audits of programs, grants, and projects funded under this part of the ARP.
  • Section 2013. Modification of Revenue Requirements for Proprietary Institutions of Higher Education: Section 2013 amends Section 487(a)(24) the Higher Education Act of 1965 by striking “funds provided under this title” and inserting “Federal funds that are disbursed or delivered to or on behalf of a student to be used to attend such institution (referred to in this paragraph and subsection (d) as ‘Federal education assistance funds’).”
  • Section 2014. Funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Out of money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, ED will have access to: (1) $2.58 billion for grants to states under part B of the IDEA; (2) $200 million for preschool grants under section 619 of the IDEA; (3) $250 million for programs for infants and toddlers with disabilities under part C of the IDEA.

Additional education-related provisions in the ARP are contained in Title II, Subtitles G and H, which focus on support for graduate medical residency training and for mental health and substance abuse training and services for health care professionals:

  • Section 2604. Funding for Teaching Health Centers that Operate Graduate Medical Education: Provides $330 million for teaching health centers that operate certain graduate medical education programs to establish new approved graduate medical residency training programs and expanding existing approved graduate medical residency training programs.
  • Section 2703. Funding for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Training for Health Care Professionals, Paraprofessionals, and Public Safety Officers: Provides $80 million for grants or contracts to health professions schools, academic health centers, as well as other organizations and entities, to plan, develop, operate, or participate in health professions and nursing training activities for health care students, residents, professionals, paraprofessionals, trainees, and public safety officers, and employers of such individuals, in evidence-informed strategies for reducing and addressing suicide, burnout, mental health conditions, and substance use disorders among health care professionals.
  • Section 2704. Funding for Education and Awareness Campaign Encouraging Healthy Work Conditions and Use of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services by Health Care Professionals: Provides $20 million for national evidence-based education and awareness campaign directed at health care professionals and first responders to, among other things: (1) encourage primary prevention of mental and behavioral health conditions and secondary and tertiary prevention by encouraging health care professional to seek support and treatment for their own mental health and substance use concerns; and (2) help such professionals to identify risk factors in themselves and others and respond to such risks.

Other Noteworthy Provisions:

  • Section 9675. Modification of Treatment of Student Loan Forgiveness. Any student loan “provided expressly for post-secondary educational expenses” and that is forgiven after December 31, 2020, and before January 1, 2026, is not counted as “gross income” under Section 108(f) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, thereby ensuring that such forgiven loans do not carry income tax liability.

-  Section 9675 dovetails with Section 3508 of the CARES Act, which authorized the Secretary of Education to cancel certain student loans associated with withdrawals as a result of a qualifying emergency, such as the coronavirus.

For more information, please contact Jeffrey P. Metzler or Roland C. Reimers.

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