How to Use Federal Funding to Buy Edtech Tools (2021)

April Ondis

Want to know how to access federal funding to buy Labster for your high school, college or university? These two guides will help you quickly find education funding from the US federal government to help your institution pay for Labster and other edtech tools that enable distance learning and support recovery from pandemic-related learning loss.

1. How your high school can use ARP Funds for education technology

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act created the $122 billion ESSER III fund for K-12 education. States and school districts can purchase edtech as well as get reimbursed for purchases made going back to the start of pandemic-related distance learning.

ARP ESSER III funds can be used to help districts and high schools pay for:

  • Education technology, including Labster virtual labs

  • Summer learning programs

  • Afterschool programs

  • Other activities that address learning loss with evidence-based interventions

High School Guide to American Rescue Plan Funds and Other Federal Funds for Education

Tips for writing your ESSER III Application:

To access ESSER III funds, your school district or Local Education Agency (LEA) must:

  • Use stakeholder feedback in the creation of their ESSER III plans. 

  • Engage in meaningful consultation with stakeholders, including students; families; school and district administrators and special education administrators; teachers, principals, school leaders, other educators, school staff, and their unions; as well as any tribes or civil or disability rights organizations in the LEA, as well as groups that represent students with disabilities, ELs, children experiencing homelessness, children in foster care, migratory students, and those who are incarcerated. 

  • Post your ESSER III plan on the LEA’s website, presented in a clear, uniform format, and accessible to all. Accessibility may require written or oral translations for non-English speakers and providing the document in an accessible format for individuals with disabilities.

  • Describe how the needs of special populations will be met with ESSER III funds. 

  • Set aside 20% of funding for evidence-based activities to address learning loss. 

  • Follow maintenance of equity (MEQ) and ensure that the highest poverty schools are not disproportionately underfunded nor understaffed (in terms of FTEs). 

  • Describe how they will meet CDC guidelines to reopen schools safely. 

  • Post a plan to return to in-person instruction within 30 days of receipt of ESSER III funds. 


Federal funding for schools ARP

2. How your college or university can use ARP Funds for education technology

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act created the $39.6 billion HEERF III Fund to provide emergency grants for higher education institutions in the United States. Over 5,000 colleges and universities can use HEERF III funds, which include: 

  • $18 billion for public and private colleges and universities (with $10 billion specifically for community colleges)

  • $5.4 billion for HSIs (Hispanic-Serving Institutions)

  • $2.6 billion for HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities)

  • $190 million for TCUs (Tribal Colleges and Universities)

HEERF III funds can be used to help colleges and universities pay for:

  • Technology associated with the transition to distance education, including Labster virtual labs and other education technology

  • Defraying revenue lost due to coronavirus

  • Faculty and staff trainings

  • Payroll 

  • Reimbursement for allowable expenses already incurred (dating back to March 13, 2020, when the COVID-19 national emergency was declared)

Higher Ed Guide to Federal Funds Available for Colleges and Universities

Tips for Applying for HEERF III Institutional Aid:

Important: not all institutions need to apply! HEERF III funds are automatically available to your institution if it has already received funds under the CRRSAA (the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021). 

Application is only required if:

  • Your institution did not receive a CRRSAA grant 

  • Your institution is on the Department's published ARP (a)(1) allocation table:

Terms and Conditions for Receiving ARP HEERF III Institutional Portion Funds:  

Application Deadline: If these conditions describe your college or university, you must apply to receive HEERF III funds for your institution by August 11, 2021. 

HEERF Voluntary Decline Deadline: If you have already received HEERF III funds and want to decline these funds (or a portion of them), you must submit the Voluntary Decline of HEERF Funds form by August 11, 2021: 

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