Title V, Part B is comprised of two main programs:

  • The Small Rural School Achievement Program (SRSA) provides funds targeted and designed for schools with small populations in lower-density areas. Funds are given directly to districts with designation by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
  • The Rural and Low-Income Schools Program (RLIS) provides funds for states to subgrant to districts with NCES designation. RLIS funds apply more broadly and can be used for a number of purposes related to other titles of ESSA.


The purpose of Title V is to allow states and districts the flexibility to target federal funds to the programs and activities that most effectively address the unique needs of states and localities. In particular, Title V, Part B—the Rural Education Initiativeis designed to help states and districts meet the unique needs of rural school districts that frequently lack the personnel and resources needed to compete effectively for federal competitive grants, and receive formula funds in amounts too small to be effective in meeting their intended purposes. Title V matters because it can help ensure that principals and school leaders working in states and districts with rural populations have funding flexibility so teachers, school personnel, and students get the extra support they need.

FUNDING. Title V: Part B

ESSA authorizes funds for annual grants to districts.

  • FY 2017 — FY 2020: $169,840,000

Schools and districts that are eligible for both SRSA and RLIS funds can apply for the funding stream that meets their unique needs; this was not the case in No Child Left Behind. Additionally, districts that receive RLIS funding can use funds for a broader range of activities. RLIS funding can now be applied toward any allowable use of funds under ESSA Title I Part A, Title II Part A, Title III, or Title IV Part A or B.

Title V offers and supports access to what may be otherwise out-of-reach funding opportunities. Because rural districts often lack the capacity to apply for competitive grants, ESSA helps rural districts by:

  • Requiring the secretary of education to conduct outreach to rural districts about competitive grant opportunities
  • Reducing the paperwork and compliance burden
  • Allowing districts to seek technical assistance on Title V grant applications or pre-applications
  • Allowing districts to work together or with educational service agencies to submit joint applications for federal funding


  • Engage now with your district in discussions about the instruction of students in rural areas. Encourage additional support and effective teacher and principal professional development to improve teaching skills in meeting the diverse needs of this population.
  • Collaborate and work with other principals in your district to help ensure your state applies for these funds and makes them available. 
  • Influence the federal appropriations process. Because of the ability to combine and target all ESSA title funds in combination with Title V funds in rural districts, influencing the federal appropriations process would help assure more funds are available to your district and school.
    • Share any good news with your local media. If you have good news to tell or believe your community, city, or state media can highlight the work and success of your teachers and students in rural schools and districts, read the ESSA Communication Kit for tips, tools, and resources on how to raise the visibility of your school via social media as well as traditional outlets.