K-12 Voucher Program: FAQsInformation on Frequently Asked Questions for the Education Technology K-12 Voucher Program.
- What is the Education Technology (Ed Tech) K-12 Voucher Program?
The Ed Tech K-12 Voucher Program resulted from the $1.1 billion settlement of the antitrust claims of California consumers against Microsoft Corporation. A fund equal to two-thirds of the unclaimed and unredeemed portion of the $1.1 billion settlement (called the “cy pres” fund) has been allocated to eligible public K-12 schools in the form of vouchers to reimburse their purchases of qualifying computer technology products and services. The first distribution of $250 million in technology vouchers was made available to eligible schools beginning in 2006. On November 15, 2010, the second distribution of technology vouchers was announced. The fourth distribution of $6.5 million was announced on January 26, 2015. On March 4, 2014 the third distribution of $188.4 million was announced. Local education agencies (LEAs) had until September 25, 2015, to redeem all vouchers from the first four distributions. The fifth distribution of $11.9 million was released in November 2016. LEAs will have until November 30, 2018 (2 years) to redeem vouchers from the fifth distribution.
- How do schools apply for the program?
Rust Consulting is the Settlement Claims Administrator (SCA) appointed by the court to administer Education Technology K-12 Voucher program. Participation is a three step process:
Step 1 – The SCA notified districts, county offices of education (COEs), and direct funded charters with eligible schools in November 2016.
Step 2 – Eligible districts, COEs, and direct funded charter schools confirm their interest to participate in the program and send the contact information for the personnel assigned to this program to the SCA.
Step 3 – The SCA sends vouchers to the school districts, COEs, and direct funded charter schools.
All eligible schools and voucher balances are listed on the Balance Statements tab of the Settlement Claims Administrator Education Technology K-12 Voucher Program Web page.
- What is the California Department of Education (CDE) responsibility for this program?
The CDE is responsible for monitoring the program through end-of-program certification and site visitations, developing the process for determining how providers become "approved providers" for the Professional Development (PD) and Information Technology (IT) Support Services, and posting the support services providers on the CDE K-12 Voucher Program: Approved Providers Web page.
For information related to the K-12 Voucher program or becoming an approved provider contact Michael Kryshak, Associate Governmental Program Analyst, Education Data Office, by phone at 916-319-0260 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
The CDE is not responsible for issuing, processing, and redeeming vouchers submitted by certified voucher recipients. Rust Consulting is the Settlement Claims Administrator (SCA), selected by the court, to manage all issues related to the administration of the K-12 Voucher Program.
For information related to eligible products and services and voucher redemption visit the SCA Education Technology K-12 Voucher Program Web page or call the toll free number 800-419-5286 Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PST.
- Can I transfer my Ed Tech K-12 Voucher Program vouchers to another LEA?
No. Education Technology K-12 Voucher Program vouchers cannot be transferred to any person or entity and cannot be transferred between LEAs. If your LEA is unable to make use of all of the vouchers allotted to it, please communicate that fact to the CDE which will, per the settlement agreement, make recommendations to the Court on the proper disposition of unused vouchers.
- Do the vouchers fall under state or federal funding “supplement, not supplant” rules?
Yes, the vouchers may not supplant state or federal program funding.
For example, if an LEA submits receipts for voucher reimbursement of items (hardware/software) or services (PD or technology support) purchased with funds from a federal program, either the items and services purchased with those federal funds must remain in and directly benefit the program or the reimbursed funds must be returned to the program for the duration of the settlement period.
- Do other state's cy pres Settlement Agreements under their Microsoft lawsuit affect California?
The cy pres Settlement Agreements in other states have no effect on California's cy pres program. Each state's cy pres program has unique and different requirements, such as which product and service purchases are eligible for reimbursement using the vouchers. Allowable and not allowable products and services lists, such as the one used in connection with the cy pres program in Minnesota, do not apply in California.
- Since the voucher reimbursement funds will not be coming from the State, how should this be set up in the LEA’s accounting system?
LEAs should account for the voucher program revenues using Resource 9010, Other Local, with Object 8699, All Other Local Revenue. Current year qualifying expenditures should also be recorded to this resource.
LEAs that receive revenues reimbursing qualifying expenditures incurred in prior fiscal years (over the six year redemption period of this program) should record those receipts as revenue in the current fiscal year, using Resource 9010 and revenue Object 8699. The LEA should then make a contribution from Resource 9010 to the resource where the qualifying expenditures were originally recorded. In no case should LEAs record revenues as abatements of current year or prior year expenditures.
Since revenue is not earned until qualifying expenditures are made, this program should be accounted for as subject to deferred revenue.
- Is the program competitive?
No, this is not a competitive program. All LEAs that successfully complete the application and meet the eligibility criteria will be funded.
- Is completion of the RFA application staff and/or time intensive?
A request for application (RFA) is no longer a requirement. See FAQ #2 for information on how eligible schools can participate in the program.
What are the eligibility requirements to apply for the program vouchers?
All schools that were previously funded for the first and second cy pres programs are eligible for funding. "Eligible schools" are all public kindergarten through grade twelve schools, county offices of education, direct-funded charter schools, and State Special Schools in which at least 40 percent of the certified 2015-16 Census Day enrollment met the income eligibility guidelines or were categorically eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals (FRPM) through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). "Eligible schools" also include all public high schools in California that serve students from public elementary, middle, and junior high schools in California in which at least 40 percent of the certified 2015-16 Census day enrollment meet the income eligibility guidelines or are categorically eligible to receive FRPM through the NSLP.
If a school serves students in any grades 9-12 and it does not have at least 40 percent of their students eligible for free and reduced meals, may it qualify under the feeder school provision for high schools?
The definition of a public high school, for the purposes of this program, is any school that serves grade 9 only, or serves one or more grades 10-12, and no grade below 7. These schools may qualify under the feeder school provision for high schools. (See Item #10 above.)
If an LEA has an average of 40 percent NSLP eligibility, are all schools in the LEA eligible?
Eligibility is determined at the school level, not the LEA level. Only elementary and middle schools with 40 percent NSLP eligibility and high schools with an eligible feeder school within an LEA are eligible.
If an LEA has at least one eligible high school, are all high schools in the LEA eligible?
Eligibility is determined on a school-by-school basis. Only high schools that serve students from public elementary, middle, and junior high schools at which at least 40 percent of the attending students are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals through the NSLP will be considered eligible.
Does the feeder school provision apply to middle schools with less than 40 percent NSLP eligibility?
No, the feeder school provision applies only to high schools. Middle/Junior High schools must have at least 40 percent NSLP eligibility to be funded under this program.
Does the high school feeder school provision apply only to middle/junior high schools that are feeder schools for a high school, or does it include elementary schools that are feeder schools to the middle/junior high feeder schools for a high school?
The high school feeder school provision applies to both middle/junior high schools and elementary schools that are feeder schools for a high school. A high school qualifies if any of the currently-enrolled students it serves came from a qualifying elementary or middle/junior high school.
What is the definition of a feeder school for high schools with less than 40 percent free and reduced-price lunch program eligibility?
The definition of a feeder school for high schools with less than 40 percent free and reduced-price lunch program eligibility is:
- The definition of a “feeder school” to a regular high school is any eligible elementary or middle and junior high school in which the high school's currently-enrolled students were enrolled and who reside within the attendance boundaries for the high school.
definition of a “feeder school” to an open enrollment or magnet high school is any eligible elementary or middle and junior high school in which the high school's currently-enrolled students had been enrolled.
- How will vouchers be distributed?
Vouchers will be distributed by the court-appointed SCA to eligible schools. Fifty percent of the total amount will be in the form of General Purpose Vouchers and 50 percent will be in the form of Specific Category Software Vouchers. Previously, vouchers were mailed through the U.S. postal service to LEAs. After March 4, 2014 all vouchers will be e-mailed to the Primary Contact that the SCA has on record. Checks will continue to be mailed to the LEA Superintendent. If LEAs do not know who their primary contact is, they can contact the SCA by phone at 1-800-419-5286, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Do the vouchers have to be distributed equally among eligible schools?
No, LEAs may choose to target vouchers to support any eligible school sites included in the application. Vouchers do not have to be distributed to all eligible school sites. However, vouchers may only be utilized at those school sites eligible to receive vouchers.
- Will the amount of the vouchers be based upon the total enrollment for the LEAs?
The amount of the vouchers will be based upon the total enrollment at the Eligible Schools only, not all schools within the LEA.
- For high schools, is the funding calculation based on number of students from the feeder, or the entire high school enrollment?
For all eligible schools in this program the funding calculation is based on the total enrollment at the school. Therefore, the total enrollment for a high school will be used in the funding calculation.
Voucher Products and Services
What products or services can be purchased with the vouchers?
Vouchers will be issued in two categories: 1) General Purpose Vouchers and 2) Specific Category Software Vouchers. General Purpose Vouchers may be used to purchase specific hardware (listed below) used with any operating system platform, any non-custom software for that hardware, evaluation tools, IT support services, and PD services. IT and PD services must be obtained from approved providers. Specific Category Software Vouchers may only be utilized to purchase specific categories of software (listed below) that are published or sold by any software provider. Both the General Purpose and Specific Category Software Vouchers may be applied in an amount no greater than the standard academic price, or if an academic price is not available, in an amount not to exceed the normal or standard price established by the manufacturer or vendor for such hardware or software. The following list gives examples of eligible goods and services that may be purchased with the category of the vouchers:
General Purpose Vouchers:
- Any new laptop, desktop, or tablet computer for any operating system platform.
- Peripheral devices: printers, scanners, monitors, keyboards, pointing devices (e.g., mouse, trackball, interactive whiteboards, liquid-crystal display projectors that are capable of accepting a data feed from a computer, etc.).
- Equipment needed for networking and infrastructure (e.g., routers, servers, wireless network cards, or wireless access points).
- Hardware for accessing the Internet through television sets and Internet access for such hardware for students' homes.
- Non-custom assistive technology devices for use by students with special needs.
- Any non-custom software titles (for use with any operating system platform) that are designed for use on any qualifying hardware.
- Hardware warranties for equipment purchased through program.
- Tax and shipping costs for products purchased through program.
- CA recycling fees on products purchased through program.
- IT Support Services
Services that primarily involve the maintenance of hardware procured through this Settlement and the installation and maintenance of software procured through this Settlement.
- PD Services
- PD services directed solely at leadership development for school administrators in the use of education technology to improve learning at the site or LEA.
- PD services directed solely at general curriculum development and instructional strategies which utilize educational technology to improve instruction.
- PD services directed solely at the improvement of technology integration for any software title acquired through this Settlement.
- Training in the use of any hardware or software title acquired through this Settlement.
- Certification training for software and networking.
Specific Category Software Vouchers:
Specific categories of software offered by any software publisher or vendor, including:
- Operating system
- Word processing
- Desktop relational database oriented towards single users and typically residing on a standard personal computer
- Productivity and/or Productivity Suite
- Server, including client access licenses
- Eligible schools may also select a license program that gives students the option to use the software at home
- Tax and shipping costs on eligible products
- Eligible software bundled with a computer purchased with the General Purpose Vouchers.
(Note: LEAs are encouraged to work with their vendors to provide an invoice that has a detailed breakout of bundled software and its cost.)
- Who is responsible for determining if products or services purchased are allowable for voucher redemption?
The SCA, selected by the Court, will be responsible for determining if products or services are allowable under this program.
For information on products or services redemption eligibility visit the SCA Education Technology K-12 Voucher Program Web page or by phone Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PST at 800-419-5286, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Note: The SCA will only take questions from schools and LEAs and will not answer questions from vendors on the eligibility of their products and/or services. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the school or LEA to determine if the products or services it will be purchasing will be eligible for voucher redemption.
- Must the vouchers be used to purchase a specific product brand?
No, the Ed Tech K-12 Voucher Program is platform neutral.
- Is purchasing equipment the only option, or can the vouchers also be used to lease equipment?
The General Purpose Vouchers may be used to purchase or lease equipment.
- Can vouchers be used to provide PD using the LEA personnel?
Yes, as long as the LEA is on the Approved Providers of IT Support and Professional Development Services Web page list.
- Can vouchers be used to pay for substitute teacher costs to allow teachers to attend PD during the school day?
No, vouchers from this program cannot be used to pay for substitute teacher costs.
- Can vouchers be used to purchase infrastructure that supports high-speed Internet or increase bandwidth (i.e., switches, routers, etc.)?
General Purpose Vouchers can be used to purchase equipment needed for networking and infrastructure (e.g., routers, servers, wireless network cards, or wireless access points).
- Can an LEA use vouchers to pay for a percentage of IT support equal to the percentage of hardware/software purchased with vouchers in the designated schools? For example, if an LEA replaces 50 percent of its hardware (or software) using the vouchers, can the LEA pay for 50 percent of its IT support with vouchers?
General Purpose Vouchers may be used for "IT Support Services" that primarily involve the maintenance of hardware procured through this Settlement and the installation and maintenance of software procured through this Settlement. To use vouchers for IT support, the IT support must primarily involve these activities (regardless of the percentage of the LEA's hardware or software that was purchased with the vouchers).
- Can vouchers be used to cover the cost of shipping/handling and tax on purchases of hardware and software?
- Can General Purpose Vouchers be used to purchase software that is not included within the software categories that may be purchased with the Specific Category Software Vouchers?
Yes. General Purpose Vouchers may be used to purchase any non-custom desktop software offered by any publisher or vendor for use with any operating system platform that is chosen by the school. Specific Category Software Vouchers may only be used to purchase specific categories of software (listed above) offered by any software publisher or vendor for use with any operating system platform that is chosen by the school.
- Can vouchers be used to purchase extended warranties and/or service agreements on eligible goods?
- Can vouchers be used for data storage and management at remote sites (i.e., student data, electronic portfolios)?
The SCA, selected by the Court, will be responsible for determining if these types of products or services are allowable under this program, depending upon the specifics of what the school or LEA proposes.
- Are subscription-based products or services allowable?
Products or services purchased on a subscription basis are allowable under this program; however, the product or service itself must meet the criteria for the Specific Category Software Voucher products or the General Purpose Voucher products and services.
- Can the registration and workshops costs for conferences be redeemed using General Purpose Vouchers?
If the conference is on the approved PD provider list, the registration and workshop fees may be redeemed using the General Purpose Vouchers. It is important to note that to be approved, a conference must consist mainly of sessions that address the allowable PD services (listed above).
Note: Specific conferences are only listed as an approved PD provider for the year the conference is offered.
- Is there an “approved products” list for LEAs to use when planning purchases?
Products are not “approved” by the SCA. The SCA reviews products to determine if they are eligible for redemption as per the terms of the settlement agreement. LEAs are responsible for verifying with the SCA that the product or service is eligible for redemption prior to making a purchase. LEAs should be wary of any vendor claims that their product or services are eligible for redemption unless those claims are verified by the SCA. A list of products that schools have inquired about in the past and their eligibility status is available on the SCA Ed Tech K-12 Voucher Program Product Eligibility Information Web page.
Student Information System (SIS) or Electronic Learning Assessment Resource (ELAR) software eligible for redemption using General Purpose Vouchers if they do not meet the criteria for Evaluation Tools?
For General Purpose Vouchers eligible software is defined as “Any non-custom software that could be used with Qualifying Hardware.” Only SIS and ELAR software products that meet these criteria would be eligible under the General Purpose Vouchers.
- Can LEAs claim indirect cost on the voucher award and include the indirect amount, as appropriate, on the Voucher Redemption Claim Forms?
No, indirect cost cannot be claimed for this program.
- Can the cost for the processing of the Voucher Redemption Claims Forms and reimbursement payment be redeemed under this program?
No, the costs for processing the Voucher Redemption Claims Forms and reimbursement payments are not eligible for redemption under this program.
- We have been approached by vendors offering to provide assistance in submitting the Voucher Redemption Claim Forms, and other administrative type support. The vendors have stated that these administrative type costs may be redeemed using the General Purpose Vouchers. Is this correct?
No, the costs for submitting the Voucher Redemption Claims Forms and any other administrative tasks associated to this program are not eligible for redemption under this program. LEAs should be very wary of any vendor claims that their products or services will be eligible for redemption.
- What is the start date for redemption of eligible services from an approved services provider? Is it the date that the eligible services were provided, or the date the provider was approved by the CDE?
The start date for redemption of eligible services from an approved provider is the date the provider was approved by the CDE. Services provided prior to that date are not eligible for redemption.
- We registered staff to attend a PD session/conference from a provider that was on the approved list at that time. The provider has since been removed from the list. Does this mean that the session/conference will not be eligible for redemption?
Since at the time of registration the provider was approved, you will be able to redeem the eligible costs for the session/conference. However, any session/conference registration that occurred after the provider was removed will not be eligible for redemption.
- We contracted with a PD (or IT) service provider for services through the current school year and they were on the approved provider list at the time the contract was signed. They have now been removed from the list. Does this mean that the contract services not yet delivered will not be eligible for redemption?
Since at the time the contract was signed the provider was approved, you will be able to redeem the eligible costs for the services through the contract period. However, any future services beyond the contract time frame will not be eligible for redemption.
- We registered staff to attend a PD session/conference from a provider that was not on the approved list at that time. The provider has since been added to the list and was on the list at the time the service was provided. Does this mean that the session/conference will be eligible for redemption?
Since at the time of the provision of services the provider was approved, you will be able to redeem the eligible costs for the session/conference. However, any session/conference that occurred before the provider was approved will not be eligible for redemption.
- What is the process the SCA will follow for responding to phone calls or e-mail inquiries from LEAs regarding product and/or service eligibility?
The process the SCA will follow for product and/or service eligibility inquiries, as well as information regarding what the LEA must include in the inquiries, can be found on the SCA Education Technology K-12 Voucher Program Web page.
- My LEA’s approved application for the Ed Tech K-12 Voucher program stated that we would use vouchers to purchase a product that the SCA states is not an eligible product. Because it is in my approved application, shouldn’t the product be eligible?
The CDE is not responsible for determining if products or services are eligible, as that is the responsibility of the SCA. The eligibility of products and/or services described in the application was not a consideration in the CDE review and approval process of the LEA technology plan. Therefore, the products and/or services described in the application are only eligible if they meet the criteria of the Settlement Agreement, as determined by the SCA.
- Are hosting fees eligible for reimbursement?
There are many types of hosting fees. Specific information as to the type of hosting must be provided to the SCA in order to verify eligibility.
Eligible hosting fees include the following:
- Fees associated with hosting hardware or software off-site as an alternative to in-house hosting (e.g., by a company that specializes in hosting hardware or software). These fees may include hosting hardware or software (including web site hosting) or fees for initial setup, configuration and deployment of a server and/or any software included in the contract.
- Fees associated with hosting additional software beyond what is normally included in the software hosting package provided by the hosting company (i.e., third party software hosting). These fees may include fees charged by the hosting company for hosting the software and fees charged by the hosting for initial setup and configuration of software.
- Fees for manufacturer’s licensing and software maintenance and support fees associated with hosted software products.
- Is refurbished equipment eligible for reimbursement?
Eligible products that are classified as "refurbished" are reimbursable only if they are unused and are purchased from an established OEM, retailer, or reseller. Used refurbished equipment, including "off lease" equipment, is not eligible for reimbursement through this voucher program.
- How will vouchers be redeemed?
A voucher redemption form will need to be submitted along with invoices for purchases that meet certain requirements set out in the Settlement Agreement. Instructions for redeeming vouchers as well as a description of the information that must be included on invoices and receipts are available on the SCA Ed Tech K-12 Voucher Program How to Redeem Vouchers Web page.
For information on products or services redemption eligibility a school or LEA has several options. They may review product eligibility guidelines and a list of products on the SCA Ed Tech K-12 Voucher Program Product Eligibility Information Web page, or e-mail the SCA at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the SCA call center for the California Education Technology K-12 Voucher Program by phone at the toll free number 800-419-5286 from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PST.
- What is the expected turnaround time for reimbursement?
We anticipate LEAs will be reimbursed for their qualifying purchases within 30 calendar days after submitting vouchers to the SCA.
- When must vouchers be redeemed?
Vouchers must be redeemed by November 30, 2018.
- Do LEAs purchase the products or services with the vouchers, or do they purchase them with existing funding and redeem the costs using the vouchers?
Allowable products or services must be purchased using existing funding, and then the vouchers for those purchases may be redeemed for cash through the SCA.
- Who is responsible for determining if products or services purchased are allowable for voucher redemption?
The SCA, selected by the Court, is responsible for determining if products or services are allowable under this program.
Note: The SCA only will take questions from schools and LEAs and will not answer questions from vendors on the eligibility of their products and/or services. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the school or LEA to determine if the products or services they will be purchasing will be eligible for voucher redemption.
- What is the earliest date for purchases eligible for redemption under this program?
The earliest date for purchases eligible for redemption under this program is July 1, 2006.
- What determines the date of a purchase? Is it the date the purchase order was placed, the date of the invoice received from the vendor, or other?
For vendor products or services the date of purchase is the date of the invoice received from the vendor. For LEA services, such as IT support or PD, it is the date the service was completed.
- Does this program have any requirements regarding how long the products procured by the program must remain at the eligible schools? For example, under the federal E-Rate program the products must remain at the school for three years.
The vouchers may only be used in Eligible Schools, except that server products may in some circumstances be used for the benefit of both Eligible and ineligible schools. So, with that exception, products obtained through the settlement cannot be used in ineligible schools and cannot be transferred from Eligible Schools to ineligible schools. However, the Eligible Schools can replace or retire the products when that is appropriate.
- Does the vendor certification for standard academic pricing have to be on the vendor's invoice?
See items I. 3 and II. 2, a, b, and c on the CDE K-12 Voucher Program: Redemption Guidance Web page.
- Is it sufficient if this certification is in the vendor's bid or price quote and it is attached to the invoice submitted for redemption?
The vendor certification for standard academic pricing may be contained in the invoice or it may be contained in a bid, price quote, or other document and be attached to the invoice submitted for redemption. However, any document attached to the invoice must align with the items being claimed on the invoice (i.e. number of items, item description, costs, etc.).
- What does "approved provider" of Information Technology support or PD services mean?
According to the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the CDE developed the process for determining how providers become "approved providers" for the PD and IT Support Services. Approval of these agencies only means that they have met the minimum criteria for IT or PD services under this program and is not an endorsement of the quality of its products or services by the CDE or any of the parties to the antitrust settlement.
The list of approved providers is platform neutral. The CDE has taken steps to ensure that the process promotes high-quality PD aligned with state efforts to improve education. For an alphabetical listing of approved providers, please visit the CDE K-12 Voucher Program: Approved Providers Web page.
- If a vendor is on the approved provider list for IT support or PD services, does that mean that any IT support or PD service that they provide is eligible for redemption using vouchers?
No. The IT support or PD services that they provide must meet the settlement criteria (listed above). Any service that they provide that does not meet the criteria will be not allowable for redemption using vouchers. LEAs should check with the SCA to confirm that the service is eligible.
- If a vendor is on the approved provider list for IT support or PD services, does that mean that their products (i.e. software or hardware) are approved for redemption using vouchers?
No. The approved providers list only applies to an IT support or PD service that meets the settlement criteria (listed above). If a vendor is on the approved providers list for IT support or PD services that does not mean that all products supplied or used by that vendor are automatically approved for voucher reimbursement. Products must meet the separate requirements of the Settlement Agreement (listed above).
vouchers be used to provide PD using LEA personnel?
Yes. As long as the LEA is on the "approved providers" list.
- Can an LEA apply to be approved providers and then use the vouchers to pay for services they offer to other LEAs, and/or to their own LEAs, for example, a large LEA with a tech staff that could provide tech support or PD to a small LEA?
An LEA can apply to be an approved PD or IT Support Services provider.
If an LEA is an approved PD or IT Support Services provider it can then claim the vouchers for services that it provides to Eligible Schools within the LEA, with the following critical qualifier: the services must meet the program criteria as an eligible service. For example, if the LEA provides IT support, it can only be at Eligible Schools in the LEA and must primarily involve support for equipment and/or software obtained through this voucher program.
If an LEA is an approved PD or IT Support Services provider and provides services to another LEA's schools, the LEA receiving the services will have to pay using existing funds and redeem the costs using its own vouchers. Again, the support/services can only be at Eligible Schools in the LEA and the IT Support Services must primarily involve support for equipment and/or software obtained through this voucher program.