Full FY21 Appropriations Bill, COVID-19 Relief Package


Full FY21 Appropriations Bill, COVID-19 Relief Package

This week, Congress voted on a Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) appropriations bill to provide federal funding for the remainder of the fiscal year, along with a COVID-19 (coronavirus) relief package. Read below to learn about the details of this bill, as well as the Rural Tech Project finalists. 
Congress Passes FY21 Appropriations and COVID-19 Stimulus Bill 
Written by Hannah Neeper, Policy Research Associate, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here
With only days remaining in 2020, Congress reached an agreement on a long-awaited additional relief package related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and coupled it with the FY 2021 omnibus appropriations bill to finish the federal appropriations process for the year. The massive bill, providing approximately $900 billion in COVID-19 relief and approximately 1.4 trillion for regular spending across the federal government in FY 2021, passed in the House in two parts by votes of 327-85 and 359-53 and in the Senate by a vote of 92-6 on Monday evening.
The COVID-19 portion of the bill provides a wide range of resources across the federal government, including money for another round of stimulus checks, extended unemployment benefits, additional Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses, COVID-19 testing and other various aspects of relief aid. For education specifically, the Department of Education will receive $82 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund, significantly more than was included in the CARES Act in March but well short of needs expressed by educators around the country. Out of that funding, $54.3 billion is for K-12 (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund) and can be used for a variety of activities, including school facilities repairs and improvements,addressing learning loss among students, and any activities authorized under other federal education legislation, including Perkins. Higher education will receive $22.7 billion, while the flexible Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund will receive an additional $4.1 billion. Many more details on the distribution and use of these funds will be coming in the new year. In addition, we are likely to see additional proposals to address unmet needs as the Biden Administration comes into office. President-elect Biden stated this package “is just the beginning. Our work is far from over.” in response to the agreement. 
Within the appropriations portion of the bill, there was more good news for CTE! The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill included a $52.25 million increase for the Perkins Basic State Grant, bringing the new total to $1.334 billion for CTE. This increase serves as the fourth straight for the Perkins Basic State Grants, which provides a strong indication of the growing support for CTE on Capitol Hill! This funding increase will ensure a strong base of support for CTE through Perkins funding, with COVID-19 relief funds supplementing for more immediate and one-time costs. 
Below are some additional funding levels in the appropriations bill that are important to CTE educators: 

  • Adult Education: $674,955, an increase of $18,000 from FY 20 level
  • Pell Grants: $5,435 for the maximum award, an increase of $150 from FY 20 level
  • Federal Work-Study: $1,190,000, an increase of $10,000 from FY 20 level
  • Career Pathways for Youth Grants: $10 million, level funded from FY 20 level 
  • Strengthening Community College Training Grants (SCCTG): $45 million, an increase of $5 million from FY 20 level
  • Apprenticeship Grant Program: $185 million to support registered apprenticeships, an increase of $85 million from FY 20 level

In addition, there were several changes to federal programs impacting postsecondary education included within the bill. For example, the ban on Pell grants for incarcerated students is eliminated and there are provisions to streamline the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
ED Announces Rural Tech Project Finalists 
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the five finalist teams for the Rural Tech Project- an initiative with the purpose of advancing technology education and supporting rural educators. Each of the finalist teams will receive $100,000 and move on to the second phase of the challenge, which will take place from January through July 2021. During that time each team will create a detailed program plan and build partnerships. The finalist teams include: 

  • iLead Academy (Carrollton, Kentucky);
  • Louisa County Public Schools (Mineral, Virginia);
  • Premont Independent School District (Premont, Texas);
  • Ravenna High School (Ravenna, Michigan); and
  • Woodlake High School (Woodlake, California).

Meredith Hills, Senior Policy Associate for Federal Policy