Applications for the EPA’s first round of funding in its Clean School Bus Program are closed – sign up to be the first to hear when the next funding round opens!

The application period for the first round of funding through the Clean School Bus Program is now closed. Please see below for WRI’s guidance offered during the first application period.

Three application steps: 1) Register 2) Plan 3) Apply

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As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Congress authorized up to $5 billion that can be used to purchase electric school buses and charging infrastructure through the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program.

This is your chance to bring the health, air quality and climate benefits of clean-running electric school buses to your students, communities, and school districts – using federal dollars to cover up to the full cost!

To get started, just register your school district as an entity on SAM.gov (the federal government’s fund disbursement site), work with key stakeholders to plan out what’s needed for electric school buses in your school district, then apply with the EPA’s online application.

Want to learn more? Subscribe to email updates from the Electric School Bus Initiative.

 

Find out more about the Clean School Bus Program

Here’s what you need to know as you get ready to apply for electric school bus funds through the Clean School Bus Program:

What is the Clean School Bus Program?

Who is eligible to apply?

What are priority school districts?

How do I get started?

What should I consider when planning?

What can I expect after I apply?

Where do I apply?

 

Why electric school buses?

Electric school buses offer a clean ride for students, without the dangerous pollution created by diesel exhaust and propane.

Diesel exhaust is too dangerous for kids

Electric school buses are safe, reliable and ready now

Fossil fuels like propane can't meet the moment

 

More resources

 

FAQs about the EPA's Electric School Bus Program

What is the Clean School Bus Program?

The Clean School Bus Program (CSBP) is a new initiative created through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021. Through the CSBP, the EPA can allocate up to $5 billion for cleaner school buses – like electric school buses! – throughout the U.S., to help keep children safe from the dangers of diesel exhaust pollution.

The CSBP’s first round of funding is making $500 million or more available in this round. To be eligible for a funding award, register at SAM.gov, plan out your application with key stakeholders, and apply with the EPA’s online application.

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Who is eligible to apply?

All public school districts in the U.S. are eligible to apply for funding through the Clean School Bus Program!

That includes school districts in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, American Somoa, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Public charter schools with an NCES District ID are eligible as well.

If your school district’s buses are owned by a private fleet operator, you will also be eligible to apply for these funds. Reach out to your private fleet operator to coordinate your application. In most instances, the school district will need to apply for the funding with a plan to pass funding on to the private fleet operator for the purchase of new electric school buses.

Other eligible organizations include Native nations, tribal organizations, tribally-controlled schools, nonprofit school transportation associations and certain types of eligible contractors (including school bus dealers and original equipment manufacturers).

See full details from the EPA.

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What are priority school districts?

The EPA has also designated certain school districts whose applications will be the first selected for funding and who are eligible for higher funding levels. These priority school districts were selected based on local poverty rates, location and tribal status. You can find out more from the EPA here and check if your school district is an EPA priority school district here.

If you are a private fleet operator who serves one of the EPA’s priority school districts and would like assistance with your application, please reach out to the Electric School Bus Initiative.

All school districts, whether designated as EPA priority school districts or not, are eligible to apply – and with $500 million or more available in this round of funding, it’s a historic opportunity to bring the benefits of electric school buses to your students!

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How do I get started?

1. Your first step is to confirm your organization’s entity registration at SAM.gov.

SAM.gov is the website the federal government uses to track and disburse funds. You’ll need your school district's entity number issued by this site in order to submit a Clean School Bus Program application. Your school district must have an entity registration; a personal account will not work. Talk to your school district’s finance department to find out if your school district already has an entity set up on SAM.gov, or to get assistance.

Next, you’ll need to designate yourself — or whoever will be applying for your district — as a point of contact when registering your district as an entity. Only a designated point of contact can apply for Clean School Bus Program funding for a district, and the point of contact must apply using the same email address as in their SAM.gov profile. There may be up to four points of contact designated for each entity.

It’s important to make sure your organization has an active entity number and points of contact right away — don’t wait until you’re ready to submit your application to get set up in SAM.gov.

2. Next, it’s important to plan for how you will bring electric school buses to your school district.

This should involve conducting a fleet inventory and conversations within your transportation, maintenance and facilities team, and with your electric utility provider(s).

3. Finally, apply during the next application period for your funding through the online Clean School Bus Program application.

This application is your ticket into the lottery that will determine which school districts get funding in this first round. All applications are entered into the lottery regardless of when they’re submitted, but be sure to apply by the deadline. You can see screenshots of the application process here.

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What should I consider when planning?

First, be sure to follow the three steps to submit your application: register your school district on SAM.gov, plan for how you will bring electric school buses to your school district (read more on this below!), and apply through the EPA’s online application.

In this first round of Clean School Bus Program funds, the money can only be used to replace existing buses in your fleet with cleaner options, like electric school buses. That means it will be important to decide which buses to replace and how to bring in the necessary infrastructure.

Here are some key steps you may want to follow while planning your application:

  • Conduct a fleet inventory with key information about each bus in your fleet, to help you decide which buses are good options to replace and how many zero-tailpipe-emissions electric school buses you’ll apply for. The EPA has a helpful spreadsheet tool available here.

  • Review the Clean School Bus Program’s eligibility requirements for buses to be replaced. The program offers options to replace both diesel-powered school buses and buses powered by other fossil fuels (like propane and CNG) with clean-running electric school buses. To be eligible to be replaced, school buses need to be actively in use today, among a few other requirements. Be sure to review the program’s bus eligibility requirements in the EPA program guide for full details.

  • Reach out to your electric provider(s) to discuss charging options, infrastructure updates needed and any available funding programs they may offer. Your electric provider will be a key partner as you transition to electric school buses, so it’s best to start these discussions early. To prepare for discussions with your electric provider(s), please review the ESB Initiative’s Power Planner.

  • Hold conversations within your school district’s maintenance, transportation and facilities teams, and with any relevant school district business officers and grant writing staff. Getting early buy-in and alignment across key school district departments will help to identify potential roadblocks and make for smooth implementation. The ESB Initiative and others have resources to support these initial planning conversations.

  • Determine how you’ll decommission the school buses you’ll be retiring. The Clean School Bus Program offers a two-year window to transition to your new electric school buses and remove the buses you’re replacing from your fleet. Read more about the program’s requirements for decommissioning buses in the EPA’s program guide.

When you’re applying, be sure to make clear that you are applying for funds for zero emission school buses (that’s the EPA’s term for electric school buses), and to demonstrate that your school district has a strong ability to use these funds effectively. The EPA will review applications that are selected via lottery to ensure they are eligible for the program before awarding funds.

Free informational flyer

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What can I expect after I apply?

After you apply, your application will be entered into the EPA’s lottery system. Applications from the EPA’s priority school districts will be funded first, but all applications will be entered into the lottery, and at least one application per state or territory will be funded. You can see the full details of the EPA’s selection process in the EPA’s program guide.

Selected school districts may be informed of their award amount as soon as early fall 2022. Between application and award announcements, you may receive follow-up communications from the EPA with updates or seeking more information.

This first round of funding through the Clean School Bus Program has $500 million or more in funding that can be used for electric school buses. Funds will be disbursed as upfront rebates that are available to school districts at the time of the purchase of new electric school buses. That means that school districts will not need to cover upfront costs themselves but can instead use federal dollars to cover purchase costs.

If you are awarded funds, you will have two years to transition to your new electric school buses and to decommission the buses you’re replacing. There are some other requirements – like holding on to project documents and making your buses available for inspection – to be aware of, so be sure to review the EPA’s program guide.

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Where do I apply?

Apply through the EPA’s online application You can see screenshots of the application process here.

Before you apply, be sure to register your school district as an entity on the federal government funding site, SAM.gov, and to talk with key stakeholders in your school district.

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Electric school buses are the right choice for students and communities

Diesel exhaust is too dangerous for kids

Diesel exhaust pollution is dangerous, and it’s putting students at risk nationwide. The science is clear:

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Electric school buses are safe, reliable and ready now

Electric school buses are safe, reliable and they have zero tailpipe emissions. Best of all: they’re ready to deploy now!

  • Electric school buses eliminate tailpipe emissions, so students have clean, healthy air on their rides to school.
  • Protecting students from dangerous air pollution is vital to their growth and development. In fact, it’s been shown that reducing students’ exposure to air pollution from school buses has positive and significant effects on some test scores – in some cases, on par with increased teacher experience.

  • Electric school buses are safe and reliable and are successfully operating in all types of communities and climates. According to industry experts, electric school buses can reliably cover more than 99% of routes in operation.

  • Electric school buses offer fuel price stability that fossil fuels can’t match. Over the past two decades, electricity prices have been more stable than retail prices of other transportation fuels. 

  • Electric school buses can save school districts thousands of dollars per bus per year on maintenance and fueling costs, depending on local circumstances. That’s because switching from a diesel bus to an electric bus typically will reduce the fueling costs of a vehicle by over 60%. 

  • All major school bus manufacturers offer electric versions, and new start-ups are also entering the electric school bus market. There are also a growing number of companies providing buses repowered to drive electric. 

  • Electric school buses can help combat climate change. Electric school buses offer significant cuts to greenhouse gas emissions compared to diesel and propane buses — and as renewable energy usage increases on the power grid, emissions related to electric school bus use will decrease even more!

  • With federal funding now available to cover up to the full cost of electric buses and charging infrastructure, there has never been a better time to bring clean, healthy rides to students, drivers and communities in your school district.

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Fossil fuels like propane can't meet the moment

It’s clear: other fossil fuels like propane just don’t protect students from dangerous air pollution, and don’t offer the benefits of electric school buses.

  • Propane school buses create greenhouse gas emissions 2 - 4 times higher than electric school buses, depending on the local electric grid. And for some bus models, propane school buses actually generate even more greenhouse gas emissions than diesel school buses — representing a step backwards at a time when we need to cut emissions.3

  • Unlike propane-burning school buses, electric school buses have zero tailpipe emissions. Replacing a diesel-burning bus with a propane-burning bus is just swapping one outdated fossil fuel for another.
  • Over the past two decades, electricity prices have been more stable than retail prices of propane. 

  • Students deserve the air quality, health and climate benefits of zero-tailpipe-emissions electric school buses, not another polluting fossil fuel bus. 

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Footnotes

AFLEET Tool 2020, Accessed April 26, 2022, utilizing the average U.S. electricity mix for ESBs and North American natural gas for CNG. Results presented for both the "Low NOx Option" and "Low NOx Option Not Selected" scenarios. "Wells-to-Wheels Petroleum Use and GHGs & Vehicle Operation Air Pollutants" option selected. Based on the assumption that a school bus drives 15,000 miles per year.

AFLEET Tool 2020, Accessed April 26, 2022, utilizing the average U.S. electricity mix for ESBs and North American natural gas for CNG. Results presented for both the "Low NOx Option" and "Low NOx Option Not Selected" scenarios. "Wells-to-Wheels Petroleum Use and GHGs & Vehicle Operation Air Pollutants" option selected. Based on the assumption that a school bus drives 15,000 miles per year.

3 AFLEET Tool 2020, Accessed April 26, 2022, utilizing various electricity mixes for ESBs (including hypothetical renewable integration utilizing electricity mix predictions from Goldman School of Public Policy’s 2035 projections for 80% renewable integration (20% natural gas) and 100% renewable integration) and North American natural gas for CNG. "Wells-to-Wheels Petroleum Use and GHGs & Vehicle Operation Air Pollutants" option selected. Based on the assumption that a school bus drives 15,000 miles per year.