SRSA Frequently Asked Questions
The SRSA program is designed to address the unique needs of small, rural school districts that frequently lack the personnel and resources needed to compete effectively for federal competitive grants and receive formula grant allocations under other programs in amounts too small to be effective in meeting their intended purposes. The SRSA program may help rural school districts use Federal resources more effectively to improve the quality of instruction in order to increase student academic achievement.
AFUA allows SRSA-eligible school districts greater latitude in spending the funds they receive under Title II, Part A and Title IV, Part A to pay for activities that are allowable uses for SRSA grant funds (i.e., activities authorized under Title I, Part A; Title II, Part A; Title III; Title IV, Part A; and Title IV, Part B).
An LEA is defined in section 8101(30) of the ESEA as a public board of education or other public authority legally constituted within a State for either administrative control or direction of, or to perform a service function for, public elementary schools or secondary schools in a city, county, township, school district, or other political subdivision of a State, or of or for a combination of school districts or counties that is recognized in a State as an administrative agency for its public elementary schools or secondary schools).
No. Any school district that is eligible for an SRSA award may exercise AFUA without applying to the U.S. Department of Education. However before exercising AFUA, an eligible school district must notify its SEA of its intent to do so by the deadline established by the SEA.
Please see the Eligibility page for an explanation of eligibility requirements and the Eligibility Spreadsheets page to find state-by-state lists of specific school districts that are determined eligible for the Rural Education Achievement Program for the current fiscal year. School districts should examine the list to determine if they are eligible for either SRSA or RLIS awards, eligible for both SRSA and RLIS (i.e., “dual-eligible”), or no longer eligible for SRSA or RLIS.
Being dual-eligible in the Rural Education Achievement Program describes a situation in which a school district meets the eligibility requirements for both REAP grants: SRSA and RLIS. To see how SRSA differs from RLIS, view the SRSA-RLIS Comparison Table
A school district should research the requirements and provisions of both the SRSA and the RLIS programs to determine which program best meets its needs. While the Department cannot tell a school district which program to choose, we have put together a list of factors a school district should consider when making its decision. This information is available on the eligibility page of the SRSA website.
In order to receive SRSA funding, an eligible school district must submit an application, which will also notify the Department of the district’s intent to participate in SRSA. If the school district does not apply for SRSA, the Department will automatically notify the SEA that the school district is eligible for RLIS. That district should follow its SEA’s application procedures for RLIS funds.
If a school district applies for SRSA in accordance with the application submission procedures, the school district cannot later choose to participate in RLIS for the fiscal year for which it submitted an SRSA application. However, if the school district is a dual-eligible school district again in future years, the school district may choose to participate in RLIS instead of SRSA by not submitting an application to the Department for SRSA. Additionally, if a dual-eligible school district indicates that it would like to receive an SRSA award, but the SRSA statutory funding formula results in a $0 award amount for the school district, the Department automatically includes the district in the RLIS cohort. That district should follow its SEA’s application procedures for RLIS funds.
Only a school district can determine if it will submit an SRSA application. However, there are certain situations where the statutory formula will result in a final award amount of $0 for the school district. The SRSA statutory formula requires the Department to calculate both an initial award amount and a final award amount for each eligible school district. If the school district’s combined allocations for Title II, Part A and Title IV, Part A funds exceed the initial amount calculated for the school district’s SRSA award ($60,000 is the initial amount maximum) (see section III.B SRSA Allocations to School Districts), the statutory formula will result in a $0 final award amount for the school district. All of the data necessary to calculate the school district’s initial award amount is available on the REAP Master Eligibility Spreadsheet and the Department will be supporting eligible school districts by providing award estimates.
Eligible school districts must submit an application to receive an SRSA grant.
The information used to determine SRSA and RLIS eligibility comes from several sources: State educational agencies (SEAs) provide:
- Average Daily Attendance
- Program Allocations from Title II-A
- Program Allocations from Title IV-A
- State Rural Definition
- Locale Code
- Population Density Data (from U.S. Census Bureau)
- Poverty Data
- Average Daily Attendance (ADA) Data
- Program Allocations from Title II-A
- Program Allocations from Title IV-A
- State Rural Designation
- Locale Code Data
- Population Density Data
- Poverty Data
It is not uncommon for a school district to move in and out of SRSA eligibility from year-to-year, especially if the school district’s average daily attendance numbers are close to the 600-student limit. It is also possible that the locale code assigned to the school district has changed. If you still have questions about your school district’s eligibility, please send your inquiries to the State mailbox that corresponds to the State in which your organization operates using the following format: [statename].OESE@ed.gov (for example, Michigan.OESE@ed.gov).
A ratable adjustment is the amount by which grant awards are increased or decreased depending on the amount of funds Congress appropriates in any fiscal year relative to the amount necessary to award school districts their full allocations according to the funding formula. If the amount Congress appropriates is not sufficient to provide each eligible school district that submits an SRSA application the entire amount it would otherwise receive by formula, the Department ratably reduces the allocation for each school district. Similarly, the Department would ratably increase school district allocations if the amount appropriated for SRSA is greater than the amount necessary to provide each school district with its full allocation
Award amounts are posted to the Master Eligibility Spreadsheets for each state. You can estimate your school district’s FY 2021 grant amount by using the following formula:
- Start with the number of students in average daily attendance and subtract 50 from that number (if negative, stop at zero)
- Multiply the remainder by $100
- Add $20,000
- If the total is above $60,000, this amount is capped at $60,000
- From the amount above, subtract the total amount of Title II, Part A and Title IV, Part A funds the school district received the preceding Federal fiscal year (i.e., for FY 2020)
- This calculation provides an estimate only; there are other variables, such as the total program appropriation and number and amounts of awards to other eligible school districts, that will affect the final award amount.
- Not all eligible school districts receive grant funds; the formula calculation may result in an award of $0.
- The school district must submit an SRSA application to the Department in order to receive grant funds.
Please see the Applicant Information page for information about the SRSA application process.
A school district that has successfully submitted an application will receive a confirmation email. NOTE: The issuance of a confirmation email does not guarantee an application will be funded. For all school districts that have submitted an application in accordance with application instructions, the Department will update the Master Eligibility Spreadsheet to indicate the application has been received.
School districts receive electronic SRSA Grant Award Notifications (GANs) each summer. If your school district has not received a GAN by September 1 and you believe your school district should receive an award, please send your inquiries to the State mailbox that corresponds to the State in which your organization operates using the format [statename].OESE@ed.gov (for example, Michigan.OESE@ed.gov).
Generally, your school district may use its funds for any activity authorized under the following ESEA programs:
- Title I-A (Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies)
- Title II-A (Supporting Effective Instruction)
- Title III (Language Instruction for English Learners and Immigrant Students)
- Title IV-A (Student Support and Academic Enrichment)
- Title IV-B (21st Century Community Learning Centers)
In general, when considering whether a proposed SRSA activity is supplemental, a school district should determine whether it would have funded this activity with other Federal, State, or local funds if no SRSA funds were available. If the result of this determination is that no other Federal, State, or local funds are available to fund the proposed activity, then the school district may be able to use SRSA funds for those activities, provided they are an allowable use of SRSA funds. There are three situations when it will be presumed that supplanting has occurred:
- if the activity is one that would ordinarily be covered with other Federal, State, or local funds (for example, in most cases, standard textbook purchases would ordinarily be covered with State or local funds),
- if the school district previously funded the activity with other Federal, State, or local funds, or
- if the activity is required by State or Federal law.
School districts that meet the SRSA eligibility criteria and submit an application in accordance with the application submission procedures, will most likely receive an SRSA award. Nevertheless, the Department cannot guarantee all school districts that meet these conditions will receive an SRSA award because the statutory formula sometimes results in an award of $0 (e.g., a school district that received a particularly large amount of Title II-A funds, such as $60,000 or more, would receive $0 under the formula).
An obligation is an order placed for property and services, contracts and sub-awards made, and similar transactions during a given period that require the grantee to pay a specified amount during the same or a future period. The timing of an obligation depends on the nature of the specific activity. The chart below, which is adapted from 34 C.F.R. § 75.707 details when an obligation occurs for various uses:
|If the Obligation is for —||The Obligation is made —|
|(a) Acquisition of real or personal property||On the date the SRSA grantee makes a binding written commitment to acquire the property|
|(b) Personal services performed by an employee of an SRSA school district||When the services are performed|
|(c) Personal services by a contractor who is not an employee of an SRSA school district||On the date on which the SRSA grantee makes a binding written commitment to obtain the services|
|(d) Performance of work other than personal services||On the date on which the SRSA grantee makes a binding written commitment to obtain the work|
|(e) Public utility services||When the SRSA grantee receives the services|
|(f) Travel||When the travel is taken|
|(g) Rental of real or personal property||When the SRSA grantee uses the property|
Authorized representatives can access their school district’s SRSA funds through our grants website, G5 (www.G5.gov). They will need a username and password, and to register a bank account. If you need help with G5, call the G5 technical hotline at 888-336-8930. Hours of Operation: 8:00 a.m. EST to 6:00 p.m. EST, Monday – Friday.
- Your password is expired. To reset your password, call the G5 technical hotline at 888-336-8930. (Please note that the REAP program office does not have the ability to reset G5 passwords.)
- The website is exhausted. When a large number of grantees log into G5 at once (especially at the end of the calendar year) there are sometimes technical difficulties. We encourage you to draw down funds as you use them throughout the year. That way you are less likely to encounter system overload.
- The website is undergoing system maintenance. The G5 website usually shuts down for one day of maintenance each October 1. Again, we strongly encourage grantees to draw down funds throughout the year as you use them, rather than trying to draw down all grant funds all at once.
The Department disburses funds to grantees via the U.S. Department of the Treasury. To access your grant funds, you must register your Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number with the System for Award Management (SAM) database. The DUNS number is a tracking number issued by Dun & Bradstreet, a private company, to all Department grantees. You can obtain a DUNS number for free and get other related information about DUNS numbers by going to the Dun & Bradstreet website. If your DUNS number is not already registered with the SAM database, you can easily register it by going to www.sam.gov. Please allow 3-5 business days to complete the registration process. If you need assistance during the registration process, you may contact the SAM Federal Service Desk at 866-606-8220. Please note that if the payee DUNS number for your SRSA grant is different from your grantee DUNS number, both numbers must be registered in SAM.
First, check that you entered your DUNS number correctly. If your DUNS number still does not work, contact Dun & Bradstreet to get a new DUNS number (at no financial cost). Next, you will need to change the DUNS number on file at the Department. Please follow the instructions below to make a formal request: send a signed letter from an authorized official (usually the superintendent) on your school district’s letterhead to: Steve Cooper U.S. Department of Education Office of the Chief Information Officer Potomac Center Plaza, Room 9135 550 12th Street, SW Washington, D.C. 20202 You can mail the letter, fax it to (202) 245-8219, or e-mail a scanned copy to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the letter, please providing the following:
- The correct DUNS number that you have verified with Dun & Bradstreet to use for your school district;
- That you are registering (or have already registered) that same correct DUNS number with the SAM; and
- The old, incorrect DUNS number and whether you would like to have any other Department grant awards associated with the old, incorrect DUNS number (as either the grantee or payee) reassigned to the new, correct DUNS number
The Department engages in monitoring activities to ensure SRSA grantees are implementing activities authorized in the SRSA statute, achieving the program’s performance objectives, and complying with other applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. In addition, the Department utilizes monitoring as a mechanism for determining the types of technical assistance needed, understanding the general context in which a grant operates, identifying exemplary practices amongst grantees, and resolving prior findings from audits or Department monitoring. In determining which grantees to monitor, the REAP program office relies on an entity risk review process based on risk factors associated with program compliance, financial requirements, and administrative requirements. The Department conducts both onsite and desk monitoring. Onsite monitoring is usually a comprehensive examination of the program to assist in improving performance. At the conclusion of onsite or desk monitoring, Department staff will issue a report identifying findings and any areas for corrective action. If corrective actions are identified, the Department will describe what actions are expected and the timeframe by which the corrective action must be resolved. A school district typically has 30 business days to respond to the Department’s monitoring report. Depending on factors such as the severity of the finding, a school district’s resources, and the level of difficulty associated with correcting the finding, a school district may be asked to resolve the finding within 60 business days or to propose a plan and timeline for resolving the corrective action within another specified time frame. The Department will stay in close contact until all corrective actions are resolved.
Please send your inquiries to the State mailbox that corresponds to the State in which your organization operates using the format [statename].OESE@ed.gov (for example, Michigan.OESE@ed.gov). You are also always welcome to use the general State and Grantee Relations email address or phone line at any time for any request. General Mailbox: SGR@ED.GOV General Phone: 202-453-5563
Section 427 of the GEPA requires Department grantees, including the SRSA grantees, to state how activities using SRSA grant funds will be carried out in a way that ensures equitable access to, and participation in, the Federally-assisted program for students, teachers, and other program beneficiaries with special needs. For more information on GEPA statements, please see the GEPA informational document. This document contains additional FAQ and a list of examples of GEPA statements submitted to the Department that were previously determined to be sufficient.