Educational inequity is widespread across the U.S. and dramatically increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. This reality combined with the burden of student debt means that 60% of students recently polled about their college applications indicated that they have removed particular schools from their lists due to concerns about cost. This trend is magnified for first-generation students, 43% of whom adjusted their lists, compared to 32% of non-first-generation peers.1

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds can be used to help reduce this gap and connect college aspiring students to an affordable college option that is right for them. Made available by the Federal government to states and to be allocated in part to local school districts, ESSER funds aim to address the impact of the pandemic on education.

There are many allowable uses for the funds. This means that Bottom Line’s proven model for degree-aspiring students from historically excluded backgrounds is an excellent pathway for ESSER funds use. For example, the funds can be used for

  • Addressing the unique needs of children or students from low-income backgrounds, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities and foster care youth, including outreach and service delivery.
  • Providing principals and other school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools.
  • Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs.3
  • Any activity currently authorized under ESEA (supporting bilingual students and Indigenous Alaskan and Hawaiian students), IDEA (supporting disabled students), AEFLA (supporting family literacy), Perkins (supporting technical education), or McKinney-Vento (supporting students experiencing homelessness).2

Bottom Line’s programs connect to a variety of these eligibility requirements, meaning your school district’s or school’s students can benefit from this unique program model that has been shown to help students get in, graduate and go far, with average debt well below the national rate. 

The Bottom Line Promise

Bottom Line partners with degree-aspiring students from low-income backgrounds to provide tailored advising services for juniors and seniors. Professionally trained staff support students in finding the college that is the right fit: a quality institution that is lower cost, unlikely to result in high student debt, and most likely to lead to high earnings quickly after graduation. With a focus on affordability and student connections, Bottom Line students graduate with significantly lower debt than the national average. For example, among the class of 2022 average student debt was  $17,518, compared to a national average of $37,000.4

Students get into and through college and successfully launch careers with Bottom Line advisors who provide ongoing individual support to persist and earn a degree. A relentless ally to students, the organization has been recognized for its rigorous, externally validated proof-of-impact on college enrollment, persistence, and graduation.5

ESSER Fund Eligibility

This funding has been granted to states and can be allocated to school districts. Use this interactive, regularly updated map to identify how much of the ESSER funds allocated to your state have already been spent, and to identify other institutions within your state that have been approved for the use of funds. This can help you determine eligibility. 

How to Use ESSER Funds to Leverage Bottom Line for Your Students

Bottom Line currently offers its full set of Access and Success services in New York City, Boston and Chicago. In these locations, ESSER funds could be used to 

  • Hire Bottom Line to work with your juniors and seniors who meet our eligibility requirements for college advising. For example, the New York City Department of Education is providing similar after-school college counseling to every junior and senior student through ESSER funds.6

Additionally, school districts located anywhere in the 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. can benefit from Bottom Line’s Learning Labs, a training program that teaches Bottom Line’s proven model so that schools can implement it. In this case, ESSER funds could be used to 

  • Fund training through Bottom Line of your school staff and administrators, to use our unique and proven college advising model, so that every student can benefit from the ongoing support of Bottom Line guidance in their college choice. 
    • For example, The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is using ESSER funds to support a statewide initiative to ensure high school students will benefit from the presence of newly trained advisors in rural high schools, alongside school counselors, to provide students with individualized college and career support.7

Deadlines & FAQs

The National Conference of StateLegislatures (NCSL) has a breakdown of funds distributed to states and information about the spending priorities for schools in each State Educational Agency (SEA).

SEAs, districts, and schools have some time to obligate funds under these federal programs:

But don’t wait–these funds may be eligible to support your students! See the NCSL site for initial information on eligibility.


2See the section titled elementary and secondary school emergency relief 
3For more information see the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) statement:
4Bottom Line 2022 Annual report
5Barr, Andrew C., and Benjamin L. Castleman. (2021). The Bottom Line on College Advising: Large Increases in Degree Attainment. (EdWorkingPaper: 21-481). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University:
6See more information in their report here:
7More information and further examples of successful use of funds can be found here: