Learning the ABCs of Relief Plan acronyms

CARES Act, ESSER & HEERF, CRRSAA, ESSER II & HEERF II and now the ARP Act. We work with educators on a daily basis and that’s a lot of acronyms for even us to understand.

How do these relief packages really help K-12 and institutions of higher education? Let’s break it down and see what it means for your institution.


Date signed into law: March 27, 2020

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) allotted $2.2 trillion to help businesses and Americans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • K-12 dedicated funding – $13.5 billion was allocated for the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Education Relief (ESSER) fund.
  • Higher education – $14 billion of the total relief package was given to the Office of Postsecondary Education as the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).


Date signed into law: December 27, 2020

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) provided additional funds for the ESSER and HEER funds.

  • K-12 dedicated funding – $54.3 billion in supplemental ESSER II funding.
    • Similar to ESSER, states receive funds based on the same proportion that each state receives under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title-IA.
    • States must distribute at least 90% of funds to local education agencies based on their proportional share of ESEA Title I-A funds.
  • Higher education – $23 billion was allocated for HEERF II funding.
    • Institutions must adhere to the 50/50 institutional/student share split for CARES Act funds spent after December 27, 2020, where 50% is allocated to help student grants and 50% can be spent on approved institutional support and services.

American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act

Date signed into law: March 11, 2021

  • K-12 dedicated funding – $123 billion earmarked to add to ESSER funding.
  • Higher education – Nearly $40 billion is allocated to extend the HEERF program.

“… ensuring school districts and college campuses have access to guidance, technical assistance, and examples of best practices to inform their efforts to get students back into classrooms and meet their social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs.”

Miguel Cardona —
US Secretary of Education


Useful ways to utilize relief funds for post-pandemic success

With the vaccination rollout underway, administrators are preparing for the future and ways to connect with students post-pandemic. Student success is not only tied to academic achievement, but more importantly, their mental health. According to a study by Matthew Browning, an environmental psychologist at Clemson University, out of the 2,500 students surveyed across 7 different campuses, about 45 percent were highly impacted and about 40 percent were moderately impacted by distresses.

As administrators look for ways to connect with students, they are finding a need to support both instructors and the critical counselors, advisors and other staff members who help students access other important services crucial to their success. Institutions are looking for a system that helps manage all student services and makes it easy for students to access what they need.

The answer is a complete academic communication system like ConexED. With a comprehensive platform that allows instructors, faculty and staff to take notes on every student interaction, you can provide students with a unique and individual experience. Each student’s profile is private and accessible to any instructor, counselor or advisor to better prepare them to help on an individual basis. Key academic milestones can be created by cohort to track student progress and early alerts help instructors, faculty or staff to follow up immediately with the student. And, all chat and video communication is FERPA and HIPAA compliant.

Even though the acronyms might be confusing, helping students succeed is crystal clear.

M.H.E.M Browning et alPsychological impacts from COVID-19 among university students: Risk factors across seven states in the United StatesPLOS ONE. Published online January 7, 2021. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0245327.