In January 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) into law, infusing billions of federal stimulus dollars into the U.S. economy. Over the past year and a half, states have used funding allocated for education to fill gaps in their budgets for both K-12 and higher education. Upon the release of a report from the U.S. Department of Education in January 2010, we decided to take a look at how stimulus spending matched up with NACAC policy priorities.
Support for Rigorous Curriculum:
· While many states use Title I funds from ARRA to support curriculum for secondary schools, two states made particularly high-profile efforts to use ARRA funds to scale up college preparatory curriculum. Florida’s Duval County expanded its college preparatory curriculum to more than 500 students who previously had to attend a special magnet school to participate in such coursework. (Florida Times-Union, 12/14/09) The Brownsville, TX school district used the money to begin building the Brownsville Early College High School, where students will graduate with an associate’s degree and 60 hours of college credit in addition to a high school diploma. (Brownsville Herald, 3/08/09)
Support for College Counseling:
· At least 25 states used the State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (SFSF) or Title I funds from ARRA to save school counseling jobs. The Department of Education has profiled efforts to save school counseling jobs in Virginia. Ohio used funds to hire instructors for a mandatory course for students and families in the high school to college transition. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/07/09) Miami/Dade County schools reported saving 697 school counseling jobs over a two-year period with ARRA funds. (Department of Education, 01/10) Texas used ARRA funds to support the AVID college access program in under-served school districts. (Dallas Morning News, 10/05/09)
Support for Student Financial Aid:
· ARRA provided $15.6 billion for the Pell grant program, and increased the maximum Pell grant award to $5,350 for the 2009-2010 school year. In addition, ARRA provided $200 million in additional Work Study funding.
· At least five states used SFSF funds to fill gaps in administrative budgets at state colleges and universities. California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada and Tennessee reported using ARRA funds to save jobs, including admission officers, at two- and four-year public colleges. (Department of Education, 01/10)
A rarity in politics is the “foreseen consequence.” One such consequence of the 2009 economic stimulus bill is the funding cliff facing states for which the two-year stimulus funds have filled gaps. Policymakers suspected at the outset of the stimulus effort that states would have trouble sustaining expenditures made possible by the stimulus beyond the two-year extent of ARRA, and those suspicions are being borne out. In response, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has introduced legislation that would provide $23 billion in additional education funding to alleviate the anticipated ‘cliff.’
“This country is about to face a massive wave of layoffs in our schools and institutions of higher learning that could weaken our economic recovery and cause serious damage to our education system,” Senator Harkin said. “This bill is an investment in our kids, in our economy and in our future.”
NACAC is prepared to help members advocate for their jobs and their priorities. To find more information about federal stimulus funds, visit NACAC’s Economic Stimulus Web page, which includes RSS feeds from the Department of Education and Education Week’s stimulus page for the latest news, links to the Department’s Economic Recovery Web site, and tips for getting involved. To find out more about how stimulus funds have been used in your state, visit the Department of Education’s State-by-State Funding Web page.