ECF and ESSER Funding Updates: New Service Delivery Deadline

Important Update Regarding ESSER Funding, 5/31/23

Please note that this is a fluid and evolving situation. Kajeet will continue to provide updates here as we learn new information.

Update:  Only ESSER funds held at US Treasury to be rescinded by debt ceiling bill.

According to Politico and other sources, the $30B in estimated COVID-program rescissions will include just under $400M from the Education Stabilization Fund at the U.S. Treasury Department.  This news suggests that ESSER-III funds already distributed to States and Districts will be treated as “obligated” under the bill’s rescission sections.  We have attempted to get official confirmation of this from the U.S. Department of Education, but as of this writing do not have a response.


If true, this would be welcome news for state and local education agencies who have already received their ESSER awards! 

Assuming this is correct and no further changes occur in the proposed bill, the deadlines for spending ESSER-II (9/30/2023) and ESSER-III (9/30/2024) funds would remain the same as previously announced.

For the latest information, we will continue to post updates on this blog post.

EdTech Funding on the Move 

Since the onset of the pandemic, we have seen a swell in federal funding allocated for education technology and digital equity initiatives. Through multiple rounds of the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) and other emergency relief efforts, billions of dollars have been allocated to safely connect students to the Internet off-campus. 

Spring 2023 has brought a number of updates to some of the most valuable sources of EdTech funding, including the ECF program and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) program. These have a wide range of implications, from impacting service delivery deadlines and providing new opportunities to adjust your funding allocations, to jeopardizing unobligated funds. 

Here’s what you need to know.  

ESSER Funding: Fiscal Cliff & Unobligated Funding at Risk

As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund released $13.2 billion in supplemental funding for K-12 schools and districts. Many districts have used these monies to invest in tools and solutions to support student on-the-go learning, such as devices, online learning tools, data plans, and connectivity solutions.  

What are the issues at hand? 

The Fiscal Cliff 

With the ESSER II spending deadline of September 30, 2023 fast approaching, taking advantage of further funding under ARP-ESSER (ESSER III) will be vital if educators hope to maintain the investments they’ve made in technology solutions. 

And while the ESSER III spending deadline isn’t until 2024, there isn’t time to wait – researchers at the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University report that districts are now spending ESSER money at a rate of $5 billion a month, a pace that must be sustained to exhaust the funds by the 2024 deadline.  

This leads them to ask, “Will districts take advantage of this last opportunity to leverage remaining funds to meet their students’ most pressing needs?” 

Unobligated Funding at Risk 

Government estimates show that while $4.6 trillion has been allocated in pandemic relief funds overall, only $4.2 trillion has been obligated.

In the context of funding allocations, funding is not 'obligated' until the recipient commits those funds to specific, identified purposes.

The Department of Education states the following in its ESSER FAQ document:

An SEA awards funds when it makes a subgrant to an LEA or, in the case of the SEA Reserve,
when it enters into a subgrant or contract with a subrecipient.

ESSER funds are obligated when the subrecipient commits those funds to specific purposes consistent with 34 C.F.R. § 76.707. If
an SEA awards a contract from the SEA reserve, that is an obligation.

In contrast, subgranting funds to an LEA or other subrecipient is not an obligation; rather, these funds are not obligated
until the LEA or other subrecipient commits the funds to specific purposes.

This means that if you have been awarded ESSER funds, but you have not yet obligated them, they may be in jeopardy.Current proposals in Congress seek to rescind these approved, but unobligated, ESSER funds as a response to the debt ceiling issue – meaning change may be on the horizon. 

How can I act? 

The best way to maximize the funding available to you for the 2023-24 school year - as well as to safeguard against proposed funding claw backs - is to revisit your application(s) and ensure your funds are obligated to a specific program or solution. 

ESSER funding must be distributed through your state educational agency (SEA), so local educational agencies (LEAs) should check their state’s website to investigate their options and make any updates. 

Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF): Service Delivery Deadline Extension 

Since the inception of the $7.171 billion ECF program, under the umbrella of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Congress has allocated billions to schools, districts, and libraries looking to support their students and patrons with devices and/or Internet connectivity. 

On May 12th, 2023, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted the Request for Waiver jointly filed by the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB) and Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) requesting an extension to the ECF service delivery deadline. Instead of December 31, 2023, most applicants will now have until June 30, 2024 to use services purchased with ECF dollars.  

What is the purpose of the ECF extension? 

This order is meant to ensure that all ECF funding applicants may use their committed dollars to the fullest extent possible, while de-obligating funding that applicants do not imminently need to meet the large demand of Third Window applications. 

Who is eligible for the ECF extension? 

This extension is available to all ECF Third Window applicants. For applicants of the ECF First and/or Second Windows, this extension is available for anyone who received their funding commitment decision letter (FCDL) or most recent revised funding commitment decision letter (RFCDL) after July 1, 2022. For these applicants, the new service delivery deadline will be 14 months following the date of that letter or June 30, 2024 – whichever is sooner. 

How does this impact me? 

While the third ECF application window closed to new applicants on May 13, 2022, what this means is that:  

  • There may be a better service provider fit for the ECF funding you did secure.  
  • You may be able to use more of the funding dollars you were approved for, but were unable to use fully during the earlier service delivery dates. 

Many schools and districts are realizing there may be other service providers whose services are a better fit for their unique needs – or who can deliver the same services at a lower cost, supporting future program sustainability. If you are open to making a switch to a different vendor partner, now is the time. 

Likewise, if you have experienced delays or obstacles of any kind when seeking to get your technology services approved, this extension should enable you to accelerate these approvals and optimize the ECF funding awarded to you. Equipment or services may have come down in price since the height of the pandemic, or you may have more current or accurate data on unmet needs and the best means to address them. 

How do I make changes to my ECF application? 

In order to edit your existing application, you will need to submit a change request to the FCC. These are called Post-Commitment Request Forms, and are entered via the ECF Portal. You may include requests related to multiple Funding Request Numbers (FRNs) from an application within the same Post-Commitment Request Form

Change requests may be made to ask for any of the following actions: 

  • Change service associated with a funding request (known as a service substitution) 
  • Change service provider associated with a funding request (known as a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) Change in E-Rate) 
  • Change funding request service start date 
  • Change funding request service end date 
  • Update UEI number 
  • Update FCC registration number 
  • Update tax ID/EIN 
  • Update invoicing method 
  • Change ECF FCC Form 471 Unmet Needs Responses 

Learn more about submitting Post-Commitment Request Forms here

Kajeet is Here to Help

We understand that the funding application and utilization processes can be overwhelming – and Kajeet is here to help. We have experience guiding our customers through the development of sustainable student, staff, and patron technology and connectivity initiatives, as well as aligning their funding applications. We are happy to provide personalized consultations from our Funding Experts at any stage of the process. 

Talk to us

If you’re looking for a new connectivity partner, consider Kajeet. Our suite of Education Broadband services and connected devices are 100% reimbursable through both the ECF and ESSER programs. All hardware, including LTE-embedded devices, laptops, routers and WiFi hotspots, are provisioned on our award-winning cloud-based platform, Sentinel. As a complete solution, Sentinel enables administrators to easily monitor and control data allocations across multiple carriers, track how devices are used, enhance their cybersecurity posture, and filter content as required under the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).  

Over 2,500 school districts, libraries, and public sector agencies partner with Kajeet for their connectivity needs – let's discover if we could be a fit for you. 

Get Your Students Connected


Tag(s): Blog Posts , Education

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