American Rescue Plan Act Includes Emergency Funding to IES and NSF for COVID-19 Response
American Rescue Plan Act Includes Emergency Funding to IES and NSF for COVID-19 Response

March 2021

On March 11, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law. The legislation provides $1.9 trillion in COVID-19 relief and stimulus in response to the continued needs created by the pandemic. As part of the package, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) received $100 million and the National Science Foundation (NSF) received $600 million.

“We are very thankful for the funding included in this legislation and the recognition of the role that education research, data, and evidence-based resources at IES and NSF have in the COVID-19 response and recovery,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “The pandemic has made clear the need for guidance and tools to support learning recovery and to address the persistent inequities in education access that the pandemic has exacerbated.”

The $100 million provided to IES would be used for research to address learning loss, inclusive of children in foster care and students experiencing homelessness, and the dissemination of research findings to state, local, and school officials. While IES has been engaged in addressing and measuring the impact of the pandemic, this funding will expand the capacity to support learning recovery and determine effective interventions beyond the pandemic.

IES Director Mark Schneider highlighted several initial plans for the use of the funding from the American Rescue Plan Act in a March 16 blog post. One of the key components is the launch of a school pulse survey in August, which will be used to gather information on the ways schools are seeking to address learning loss. AERA was among more than 50 organizations on a February letter to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies urging $5 million in emergency funding for such a survey.

The $600 million allocated for NSF is directed to fund or extend new and existing research grants, cooperative agreements, scholarships, fellowships, and apprenticeships, and related administrative expenses to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.

The legislation advanced on party-line votes of 220–211 in the House and 50–49 in the Senate. In order to bypass the 60-vote threshold needed to advance legislation in the Senate, legislators used the budget reconciliation process for FY 2021. This process allowed for limited debate and the passage of the bill by a simple majority vote in the Senate, but also turned the bill into a partisan package that all Republicans opposed.