With $500 million available through a simple rebate process, the EPA’s Clean School Bus Rebates Program is your chance to bring clean rides to your community. Here’s how to apply.
Applications for the 2023 Clean School Bus Rebates are now open!
Apply for the 2023 Clean School Bus Rebates program. If you’re ready to apply for your district’s share of $500 million in funding for electric school buses, start your application on the EPA website.
With no tailpipe emissions of harmful pollutants that can cause asthma, health issues and cognitive development problems in students, electric school buses are the clean ride that every child deserves.
Thanks to the Clean School Bus Program, school districts and fleet operators now have the opportunity to use federal funds to cover up to the full cost of new electric school buses and charging infrastructure. Here’s how.
What is the Clean School Bus Program?
As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Congress authorized up to $5 billion to replace polluting diesel school buses nationwide – and approximately $500 million of these funds are available right now for school districts and fleet operators.
These funds 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!
Already, there has been historic demand for these funds, with school districts and fleet operators receiving nearly $1 billion in funds during the first rebate round of funding. In September 2023, the EPA opened the 2023 Clean School Bus Rebate Program for applications, with $500 million available. Applications are due January 31, 2024 at 4pm ET.
Who is eligible to apply for Clean School Bus Program funds?
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 Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as Indian Tribes, Tribal organizations and Tribally-controlled schools. Public charter school districts are also eligible.
Nonprofit school transportation associations and certain types of eligible contractors including school bus dealers, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), school bus service providers and private school bus fleets that provide school bus transportation services, are eligible to apply directly to the program on school districts’ behalf with their approval.
Check the EPA website for full eligibility information.
How does the rebate program work?
The 2023 Clean School Bus Rebates program is a lottery, with priority for low-income, rural and Tribal schools. Public school districts and fleet operators in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., U.S. territories and Tribal nations are eligible to apply.
Applications are due January 31, 2024, and eligible school districts and fleet operators can apply on the EPA website.
After applying, school districts will be selected for funding using a lottery system that gives priority to districts that meet certain criteria. You can learn more about these priority districts, including how to self-certify as a priority district, below – and you can see the full list of priority districts here.
Priority districts that are selected will be awarded up to $345,000 per electric school bus. Districts that don’t meet the priority criteria but are selected for funding will be awarded up to $200,000 per electric school bus.
To apply, districts will need to set up an account on SAM.gov, the website the federal government uses to track and disburse funds. This process can take a few weeks, so it’s best to start registering on SAM.gov right away. Districts may already have an active SAM.gov account, and if that’s the case, may need to track down the account holder.
The 2023 Clean School Bus Rebates program involves a shorter, quicker application than most federal funding programs, making it a great opportunity for school districts with limited time and resources. While the application is short, it does involve a few steps such as coordinating with your local electric utility, identifying buses for replacement and informing your school board. And you should be sure to begin engaging stakeholders early to determine how you can equitably transition your routes to electric school buses.
How much funding is available through the 2023 Clean School Bus Rebates?
With approximately $500 million available, the 2023 Clean School Bus Rebates are your district’s opportunity to use federal funding to cover up to the full cost of electric school buses and associated charging infrastructure.
For priority school districts, the 2023 Clean School Bus Rebates offer up to $345,000 per electric school bus to cover the purchase of both the bus and related charging infrastructure. For school districts that aren’t on the EPA’s priority list, the 2023 Clean School Bus Rebates offer up to $200,000 per electric school bus. You can see the full list of priority districts here, and see below for information on options for school districts that are not on the priority list, including self-certification for priority status.
All school districts are eligible for an additional $20,000 in funding to help cover the cost of including a wheelchair lift. You can learn more in the EPA’s program guide on page 16. This is particularly important because students with disabilities are more likely to ride the bus to school than their peers, exposing them to the harms of diesel exhaust pollution at disproportionate rates.
School districts in Alaska, Hawai’i, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands are also eligible for an additional $20,000 in funding to help cover the cost of shipping. You can learn more on page 15 of the EPA’s program guide here.
What are priority districts?
The EPA has designated certain school districts as priority districts who are prioritized in the application process and are eligible for higher levels of funding.
These priority districts are high-need school districts and low-income areas, rural school districts, Bureau of Indian Affairs-funded school districts, and school districts that receive basic support payments for children who reside on Indian land.
School districts only need to meet one of these criteria in order to be considered a prioritized school district under the rebate program. You can see the full list of priority districts here.
School districts have the opportunity to self-certify as priority school districts even if they are not on the list of priority districts, if they meet certain criteria. Districts can self-certify if they received a Title I, Part A grant through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the 2021-2022 academic year but are not represented in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) database. Large public school districts with more than 35,000 students or more than 45 public schools can also self-certify all or part of the district, based on Title I funding. You can find out more about the self-certification process here. EPA’s list of districts eligible for self-certification can be found here.
All school districts, whether designated as EPA priority school districts or not, are eligible to apply – and with approximately $500 million in this round of funding, this is a historic opportunity to bring the benefits of electric school buses to your students!
When are Clean School Bus Rebate Program applications due?
The application deadline is January 31, 2024, at 4 PM ET. You can see more important dates on the EPA website.
How do I get started?
EPA’s Application User Guide is a helpful resource for completing your application.
If you’re an eligible applicant, begin by confirming whether your school district is registered as an entity at SAM.gov. This is the website the federal government uses to track and disburse funds, and you’ll need your Unique Entity ID (UEI) from this site to fill out the application. Your district may already have an active SAM.gov registration, especially if you’ve applied for CSBP or other federal funding previously. If not, you will need to register your school district. Check the EPA website for more information about SAM.gov.
Other steps to take right away are contacting your school board and your electric utility, as both entities will have a form to complete as part of your application. See “What should I consider when applying?” below for details.
You should also begin the planning process for transitioning to electric school buses as soon as possible. Our Step-by-Step Guide can walk you through the key steps in that process, including:
- Foundation Setting
- Charging Infrastructure and Operations Planning
- Procurement and Installation
- Training, Testing and Deployment
- Performance, Benefits and Scaling
Throughout the process, it’s important to actively engage with stakeholders in your school district, those directly involved with your pupil transportation process and within the community. Check out the Step-by-Step Guide to learn more!
Other resources that may be useful during your application process include:
- EPA Application User Guide
- Schedule a call with the Electric School Bus Initiative team
- Cheat Sheet: 2023 EPA Clean School Bus Program Rebates
- School Bus Electrification Template Roadmap
- Electric School Bus Market Study and Electric School Bus U.S. Buyer's Guide
- Power Planner for Electric School Bus Deployment
- 12 Tips on Electric School Bus Adoption
- Electric School Buses Can Fight – Or Further – Inequity in the U.S.
What should I consider when applying?
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. To be eligible for replacement, school buses need to provide regular bus service, among a few other requirements. Be sure to review the program’s bus eligibility requirements in the EPA program guide for full details.
- Connect with 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, and for this round of funding, applicants are required to submit documentation showing that they have connected with their electric utility. To prepare for discussions with your electric provider(s), check out the Power Planner here.
- Discuss your application with your local School Board. They will need to complete a school board awareness form.
- 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, as well as with PTAs and other community groups, will help to identify potential roadblocks and make for smooth implementation. You can find resources to support these initial planning conversations in our Resource Library.
- 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, which is the EPA’s term for electric school buses.
How can I learn more?
To schedule a one-on-one conversation with an Electric School Bus Initiative expert, click here.
To read more about the 2023 Clean School Bus Rebate Program, check out the EPA website.
To submit questions to the EPA, email email@example.com by January 10, 2024. There is a Question-and-Answer document available on the EPA website, which will be updated periodically until the program closes, so check back regularly for updates.
Why are electric school buses the right choice for my district?
Electric school buses are the only school bus type with zero tailpipe emissions. That means no tailpipe emissions of harmful pollutants that can be damaging to students’ physical health and cognitive development.
Electric school buses are responsible for significantly lower levels of greenhouse gases than diesel-burning and propane-burning school buses, and they can save school districts thousands of dollars each year on fuel and maintenance costs. In fact, our analysis shows that a school district operating an electric school bus can expect to see over $100,000 in lifetime fuel and maintenance savings, compared to an equivalent diesel bus.
Electric school buses run cleaner and quieter, and drivers report high satisfaction. With electric school buses successfully operating in urban, rural and suburban settings – and in every type of climate nationwide – they’re proven to be effective and reliable.
Learn more about why electric school buses are the right choice here.
What other funding is available for electric school buses?
The Clean School Bus Program is just one of a growing number of federal, state and local funding programs designed to help school districts deliver the benefits of zero-tailpipe-emissions electric school buses.
The 45W “Qualified Commercial Clean Vehicle” tax credit can be applied to electric school buses purchased through the Clean School Bus Program, saving school districts up to an additional $40,000 per electric school bus. You can learn more about the 45W tax credit here.
The 30C tax Credit for Alternative Fuel Refueling Property can also be used by school districts to cover up to an additional $100,000 in charging infrastructure costs, in low-income and non-urban areas. You can learn more about the 30C tax credit here.
There are also billions of dollars in state-level funding available to support the transition to clean-running electric school buses. Look through our one-of-a-kind Clearinghouse of Electric School Bus Funding and Financing Opportunities to find funding programs that your district may be eligible for. You can find the Clearinghouse here.
Want to learn more about funding and financing options for electric school buses? Check out our explainer here.
Are propane-burning school buses a clean option?
Propane is a fossil fuel and, when it burns, produces harmful pollutants. Electric school buses are the only type of school bus that does not require burning a fossil fuel onboard the vehicle.
Propane-burning school buses emit dangerous pollution at levels generally comparable to or higher than current diesel models, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory AFLEET tool. In fact, propane-burning school buses emit more carbon monoxide than diesel-burning school buses and just as many greenhouse gases — the only benefit of propane-burning buses over diesel are for nitrogen oxide emissions, AFLEET data demonstrates.
The data is clear: electric school buses are the best at lowering the emissions that affect student health and the environment. You can learn more about the dangers of propane-burning school bus exhaust here.
- Cheat Sheet: 2023 EPA Clean School Bus Program Rebates - Electric School Bus Initiative
- EPA 2023 Clean School Bus Rebate Program Website - U.S. EPA
- EPA 2023 Clean School Bus Rebate Program Guide – U.S. EPA
- EPA Application User Guide
- Electric School Bus Market Study and Electric School Bus U.S. Buyer's Guide – Electric School Bus Initiative
- Step-by-Step Guide for School Bus Electrification - Electric School Bus Initiative
- Electric School Bus Initiative Tools Hub - Electric School Bus Initiative
- Template RFP - Electric School Bus Initiative
- School Bus Electrification Template Roadmap – Electric School Bus Initiative
- Guide to School Bus Electrification – Oregon Department of Energy
- Electric School Bus Education Series – U.S. Department of Energy
Cheat Sheet: 2023 EPA Clean School Bus Program Rebates
Want a quick overview of the 2023 Clean School Bus Rebates? Check out our new cheat sheet to see key program elements, highlights, and how this round of funding differs from past rounds. Get the cheat sheet here!