Students and Educators
The American Rescue Plan provides critical funds to get children safely back in school. This law provides $130 billion to help schools serve all students, no matter where they are learning, and help achieve President Biden’s goal to safely open the majority of K-8 schools within the first 100 days of his Administration. These investments include set asides at the local and state level to ensure states and districts address the learning loss and social and emotional needs of students disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including students of color, English learners, and students with disabilities.
The American Rescue Plan maintains and expands the Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) Program. For the 2020-2021 school year, the USDA has approved $17.7 billion to provide P-EBT benefits to 20.6 million children in 35 states and territories. The American Rescue Plan invests an additional $5 billion in P-EBT so that low-income families have access to school meals and food assistance during both the school year and summer months.
P-EBT is available this summer to all children who were eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals during the 2020-21 school year. This includes school children who received and used P-EBT benefits as well as those who were eligible for free or reduced-price school meals but did not receive P-EBT benefits because they attended school in person and had access to a meal service at school. It also includes children who are newly determined eligible for free or reduced price meals during the covered summer period as well as children under 6 years old who are enrolled in SNAP during the summer.
Helping K-12 Schools Re-Open Safely
The American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund provides $122 billion in relief for Pre-K-12 schools to reopen safely and address the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of their students. The Department of Education is encouraging states to develop and implement plans to immediately utilize that funding to get more schools opened safely this spring and work to close the gaps in education equity that the pandemic has exacerbated. The remainder. of ESSER funds will become available after states submit the plans they are developing and implementing for using ESSER funds to safely reopen schools and meet the needs of students. • More than $1.2 billion of the ESSER funds will be used by states, school districts, and schools to offer evidence-based summer learning and enrichment programs to help address the lost instructional and extracurricular time students may have experienced as a result of the pandemic – particularly for underserved communities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded $10 billion to states and jurisdictions to support COVID-19 screening testing for teachers, staff, and students in K-12 schools. By ramping up testing for educators and school staff, the Administration is helping more schools to be able to safely and quickly reopen and more students.
The Department of Education has already distributed $200 million of the $800 million in funding to help states identify students experiencing homelessness, provide wraparound services in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide assistance to enable students experiencing homelessness to attend school and participate fully in school activities. The remaining $600 million in funding will go out this summer. Click here to find your state’s chief state school officer.
The American Rescue Plan includes nearly $40 billion for institutions of higher education to help make up for lost revenue due to the pandemic. Requires institutions to dedicate at least half of their funding for emergency financial aid grants to students to help prevent hunger, homelessness and other hardships facing students as a result of the pandemic.
Student Loan Relief
COVID-19 emergency relief measures for federal student loans were extended through at least September 30, 2021, including suspension of loan payments, stopped collections on defaulted loans, and a 0% interest rate.
You can find more information on federal student loan relief on the Department of Education's Federal Student Aid website here.
Online Learning Resources
The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution have published a wide range of educational material available to the public. You can find descriptions and links to Smithsonian Institution resources here, and Library of Congress resources here. The material includes resources for students of all ages and brings with it the credibility of two of our nation’s preeminent educational institutions.