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CARES Act ESSER Fund Allocations

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides funding to LEAs through Section 18003 of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, to address the impact of COVID-19 on elementary and secondary schools.

Congress set aside approximately $13.2 billion of the $30.75 billion allotted to the Education Stabilization Fund through the CARES Act for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund External link opens in new window or tab.. This funding will provide local educational agencies (LEAs) with emergency relief funds to address the impact that Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools across the nation.

State awards for the ESSER Fund are in the same proportion as each state received under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, in fiscal year 2019-20. Each state must use no less than 90 percent of its allocation ($1,482,575,514) to make subgrants to LEAs, based on each LEA’s share of funds received under Title I, Part A in fiscal year 2019-20.

Application for Funds

While LEAs will need to apply to receive ESSER funding, the preliminary allocation amounts have been released to help LEAs with the development of their 2020-21 fiscal year (FY) budget (SACS Resource Code 3210). The application has not been released and federal funds cannot be apportioned to LEAs until authorization is provided in the California 2020-21 FY Budget Act.

The California Department of Education will communicate with LEAs on how to apply once the application for funding is made available.

Use of Funds

Federal cash management rules will apply to this funding. Funds can be used by LEAs for any purposes under the ESEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, Perkins Career and Technical Education, Title VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act, and for other purposes related to response coordination, professional development, purchasing technology, buying sanitization supplies, and other activities. (Section 18003(d))

An LEA may use ESSER funds for any allowable expenditure incurred on or after March 13, 2020, the date the President declared the national emergency due to COVID-19.


Fiscal Year 2020–21

CARES Act, ESSERF, Section 18003 Preliminary Allocations (XLSX)

ESSERF preliminary allocations are based on an LEA’s share of funding received under Title I, Part A in FY 2019-20. To have received 2019-20 Title I, Part A, an LEA must have: 

  • Been deemed an eligible LEA as reflected by a minimum poverty count of 10 and poverty rate greater than 2%; and,
  • Applied for funds on CARS no later than March 31, 2020; and,
  • Submitted the LCAP Federal Addendum

Other Information

Related Content

  • ESSERF Certification and Agreement External link opens in new window or tab.
    Link to U.S. Department of Education’s state application to apply for funds. LEAs should not complete and submit this application to the California Department of Education, provided solely for informational purposes.


Program Questions:
Questions about the application process, use of funds, and reporting requirements.

Fiscal Questions: Leslie Sharp,
Questions about the determination of LEA allocation amounts and the timing and apportionment of funds.

Questions:   Government Affairs CARES Help |
Last Reviewed: Thursday, May 21, 2020
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