• Dr. Kristen Mokofisi

What’s GEPA and Why Does it Matter to Educational Grants Program Officers?

In the world of education law, the General Education Provisions Act, or GEPA, is lesser known than its heavy weight colleagues, such as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act (Perkins), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). But if you’re administering grant funds, GEPA can mean the difference between a successful program and one that doesn’t get off the ground. That’s because GEPA has invaluable provisions extending the time in which grant funds can be expended.


Incorporated into GEPA is the Tydings Amendment. Under this provision, the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) allow grantees, for one additional year, to carry over any Federal education funds that were not obligated in the period for which they were appropriated. As such, with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, grantees can use GEPA in support of their students and communities.

GEPA provides numerous provisions that support the administration and utilization of Federal funds, but several provisions are particularly worth noting, especially as they relate to emergency funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, including:


• Extension of the period available for the obligation and expenditure of appropriation funds for an additional year (Section 421).

• Provision requiring the state educational agency (SEA) to submit a report regarding the use of Federal funds (Section 424).

• Provisions requiring applicants of Federal funds to provide a description on the steps the applicant will take to ensure equitable access to, and participation in, its Federal assisted program by addressing the special needs of students , teachers, and other program beneficiaries (Section 427).

• Prohibition on Federal control of education (Section 438).

• Provisions establishing monitoring of those in receipt of Federal education program funds for compliance with Federal education laws (Section 440).

• Provisions requiring educational agencies receiving Federal funds to provide parents with access to children's educational records and that prohibit such agencies from releasing such records without written consent (Section 444, 445).


References:

20 U.S.C. §§ 1221 et seq.