Disparities in CARES Act Funding for Florida Schools

By Mellissa Chang
March 9, 2021
March, 9, 2021--Over 5,400 private schools across the country received loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). In total, these loans amount to an estimated $4.5 billion, or approximately $833,000 per school. Florida’s PPP loan data reveal similar trends. In Florida, more than 350 private schools received an estimated $236 million in PPP loans—approximately $675,000 per school.

However, PPP loans were not the only source of education funds for private schools; some were also eligible for federal grants through the CARES Act Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER). For example, Florida received $3.9 billion in CARES Act grants for its 1.4 million Title I students, or approximately $2,879 per student. In comparison, combined ESSER and PPP funding brings private schools to an average of $4,533 per Title I student—more than 50% above public schools.

Another significant source of CARES Act funding for private schools is the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER). In the first wave of GEER funding, Florida received $175 million in grants, of which Governor DeSantis allocated $15 million to private schools and $30 million to the state's private school choice program. The second wave of GEER funding was even more generous to private schools. Of the $289 million given to Florida, $213 million was explicitly designated for private schools, bringing total private school GEER funding to $258 million. Allocations for the remaining $76 million have not been announced, and although public K-12 previously received GEER funds, they are not actually entitled to any money in the governor's fund. Even still, if Governor DeSantis decided to allocate all $76 million to public K-12, private schools would still have 44% more GEER funding than K-12.
Visit our CARES education page for more information about education funding in the CARES Act.