Update: The deadline for the Emergency Relief Fund has passed. Please refer to Funding Resource Roundup and How to Get Funds from ESSA’s Title IV-A Grant Program for information about federal funds.


We are living in challenging and unprecedented times, requiring intervention from the federal government. On March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed. Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced that $30.75 billion of the CARES Act will be distributed through four grant programs to address the impact of COVID-19 on students, K-12 schools and higher education institutions. This allotment is new grant money and not part of Title IV-A or other grant programs. 

Only one of the CARES Act grant programs requires an application — due by July 1, 2020 — through the federal government. The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) provides $13.5 billion in emergency relief funds to support continued learning for K-12 students. State education agencies (SEAs) must apply for ESSER grant money by July 1, 2020 — time is of the essence! — and local education agencies (LEAs) will have one year to use the money. See below for information about how ESSER Funds can be used and how to get started on the application.

The other three grant programs are distributed to states or directly to higher education institutions. 1) The Education Stabilization Fund Discretionary Grants (ESF) provides a portion of $307 million in grants to states most affected by coronavirus to address specific educational needs of students, their parents and teachers. 2) The Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEERF) includes $3 billion of discretionary funds distributed to state governments to support K-12 and higher education needs related to COVID-19. 3) The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) provides $14 billion of funding directly to higher education institutions to provide emergency financial aid grants to students whose lives have been disrupted. 

States have been informed of the funds they will receive. Here is the state-by-state breakdown of the GEERF, HEERF and ESSER Funds Allocations.


How Can ESSER Funds Be Used?

ESSER Funds can be used for the following:

For a detailed list on how ESSER Funds can be used, refer to pages 7 and 8 of the Certification and Agreement for Funding under the Education Stabilization Fund Program.


How Do I Get Started?



Additional Resources

Please be aware that this information changes daily. Refer to the U.S. Department of Education website for current information.


Music Education Policy During a Global Pandemic Webinar by the NAfME Public Policy Team (webinar slides are available here)


Press Release from U.S. Department of Education: Secretary DeVos Makes Available Over $13 Billion in Emergency Coronavirus Relief to Support Continued Education for K-12 Students

Education Week: Betsy DeVos Releases Billions More in Coronavirus Education Aid

If you know of additional ESSER Funds or CARES Act resources, please email them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will share them with other music educators.


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