What does American Rescue Plan mean for Education?

Learn more about the funds provided by the CARES Act, CRRSA & the American Rescue Plan and how they will impact US schools and universities.

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 in the Spring of 2020, the US Government has allocated an enormous amount of additional spending in order to help Americans manage the economic fallout sustained during the pandemic.

The education sector has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and is due to receive a large allocation of the total aid package as schools and universities continue to grapple with hybrid learning and school reopenings.

But what will the funding mean for the education sector as a whole? Which institutions will be eligible for aid, how can they access funding, and what can they spend it on? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the resources made available to the education sector and the way in which it will affect K-12 and Higher education institutions across the United States.

The 3 Stimulus packages explained


The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security act was a stimulus package signed into law in March 2020. The bill, which amounted to a total of over $1.8 trillion in additional government spending, was aimed to address some of the most pressing challenges faced by Americans in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The package included immediate relief for families and hard-hit sectors, as well as funding intended for future preparation in sectors such as education.

In the original act, a total of $30.7 billion was earmarked for the education sector, with $13.1 allocated to K-12, $14 billion for higher education and $3 billion reserved for the discretion of state Governors.


After a protracted negotiation in congress, a follow-up stimulus package was finally agreed in December 2020. Though the overall package was smaller than the original CARES act, at a total of $900 billion, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA or sometimes ‘CARES 2’), provided a much larger allocation of funds to the education sector. A total of $82 billion was reserved for education, with over half of the total amount being directed towards K-12.

The American Rescue Plan

Within weeks after CRRSA was signed into law, newly elected President Joe Biden sought to bring a third stimulus package to pass. Totaling over $1.9 trillion, the American Rescue Plan Act was passed by the Senate on March 9 and was signed into law a day later by President Biden.

The American Rescue Plan will provide more funding to the education sector than the two previous packages combined, with $168 billion reserved for the sector as a whole. The funding will be shared in a similar fashion as before, with $2.7 billion reserved for Governors, $40 allocated for higher education, and a total of $126 billion earmarked for K12.

hybrid learning microphone

How will educational institutions receive the funding?

After the passing of the initial CARES act and subsequent CRRSA, details were released on how the allocated funding would be made available to the education sector. For K-12 schools, funds will be distributed at the state level, directly to education agencies by the U.S. Department of Education. Processes vary from state to state, but generally, the funding will be made available to Local Education Authorities (LEAs) via a state-managed application process.

Following the passing of the initial CARES act, funding was allocated directly to eligible colleges and universities. It is assumed that money from the CRRSA and American Rescue Plan will be allocated in a similar manner.

What can the funding be used for?

As might be expected with such a massive effort, there are plenty of terms, conditions and requirements on how the money can be spent. It can all get a little complicated, especially if you’re not used to legalese or sprawling government websites.

Thankfully, industry experts have been hard at work to create easy-to-read summaries of all 3 acts and what they mean for the education sector. Future ed of The McCourt School of Public Policy provides a detailed, regularly updated overview of the entire stimulus effort. This includes the 12 allowable uses of the original CARES act.

The CRRSA and American Rescue Plan Act broadly follow the same criteria, with some minor changes. The Alliance for Excellent Education has put together a detailed 1 page summary of what the American Rescue Plan can be used for, which can be found here.

Investing in Edtech: Hybrid learning, assistive technology and adaptive equipment

All acts passed to date state the ability to use funding in order to purchase educational technology (hardware and software). From the original CARES Act, funding can be used for:

Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and students with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.

This will no doubt be welcomed by educators at all levels. One of the persistent challenges for educators during the pandemic has been how to maintain interaction between students and teachers during classes. 

Catchbox products - particularly the Catchbox Plus system which combines the throwable audience mic with a USB beltpack mic for teachers - provide much-improved interaction between students and their classroom instructors. Our intuitive microphone solutions can be used to facilitate hybrid learning or provide a cost-effective way to assist reintroduce students to the classroom in a distanced setup.

Catchbox Plus classroom microphone system

Eligibility for funding

All Catchbox products are eligible for funding under the CARES ACT, CRRSA, and American Rescue Plan Acts. If you would like to learn more about how to use these resources to equip your institution, our expert team will be happy to help. Get in touch today and see how Catchbox could help to transform your classroom.

Notes and further reading

Guidelines are regularly updated to include the latest information and clarity on how to best access funding. Below are 2 of our favorite resources for further reading that will help us understand how the process of distributing and receiving funds is being managed.

CARES Act higher education FAQ

Funding categories for schools and LEA's

teacher hybrid classroom solution

Eligible for funding

Microphones for hybrid learning & more

Catchbox microphones meet the spending criteria for the CARES Act, CRRSA and American Rescue Plan. If you would like to learn more about how to use these resources to equip your institution, our expert team will be happy to help.