Formula Grants for Other Than Urbanized Areas

Published on AidPage by IDILOGIC on Jun 24, 2005

Administered by:

US Federal Government Agency (see all agencies)
Department of Transportation , Federal Transit Administration
CFDA #: 20.509

Purpose of this program:

To improve, initiate, or continue public transportation service in nonurbanized areas (rural and small areas under 50,000 population) and to provide technical assistance for rural transportation providers.

Possible uses and use restrictions...

Section 5311 funds may be used for eligible capital expenses, project administration, and operating expenses needed to provide efficient and coordinated public transportation service in nonurbanized areas. Projects must provide for the maximum feasible coordination of public transportation sources assisted under this section with transportation services assisted by other Federal sources, and must provide for the maximum feasible participation of private operators. Fifteen percent of the State's annual apportionment must be spent to support rural intercity bus transportation, unless the governor certifies that such needs are adequately met. Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) funds may be used for technical assistance, training, research, and related support services.

Who is eligible to apply...

Only designated State agencies may apply directly to FTA for grants. Eligible sub-recipients may include State agencies, local public bodies and agencies thereof, nonprofit organizations, Indian tribes, and operators of public transportation services, including intercity bus service, in rural and small urban areas. Private for-profit operators of transit or paratransit services may participate in the program only through contracts with eligible recipients. Urbanized areas, as defined by the Bureau of the Census, are not eligible.

Eligible Applicant Categories:
Eligible Functional Categories:

Costs will be determined in accordance with the Section 5311 Program Guidance and Grant Application Instructions (FTA Circular 9040.1E) issued October 1, 1998, and subsequent updates (based on OMB Circular No. A-87). The documents and procedures required of applicants are specified in the above guidance and in the State's application procedure/management plan. Federal Register Notice "FTA Fiscal Year 2004 Apportionments, Allocations, and Program Information" contains the nonurbanized area formula apportionments in Table 5. For fiscal year 2004, the publication date was February 11, 2004. Prior year notices can be found at

Note:This is a brief description of the credentials or documentation required prior to, or along with, an application for assistance.

About this section:

This section indicates who can apply to the Federal government for assistance and the criteria the potential applicant must satisfy. For example, individuals may be eligible for research grants, and the criteria to be satisfied may be that they have a professional or scientific degree, 3 years of research experience, and be a citizen of the United States. Universities, medical schools, hospitals, or State and local governments may also be eligible. Where State governments are eligible, the type of State agency will be indicated (State welfare agency or State agency on aging) and the criteria that they must satisfy.

Certain federal programs (e.g., the Pell Grant program which provides grants to students) involve intermediate levels of application processing, i.e., applications are transmitted through colleges or universities that are neither the direct applicant nor the ultimate beneficiary. For these programs, the criteria that the intermediaries must satisfy are also indicated, along with intermediaries who are not eligible.

How to apply...

Application Procedure:

Eligible sub-recipients should submit application to the State agency designated by the Governor to administer the program. This agency will evaluate and select eligible applicants and submit a program of projects to the Federal Transit Administration. The provisions of 49 CFR, Part 18, apply to the state and governmental bodies, and 49 CFR Part 19 applies to the private non-profit organizations.

Note: Each program will indicate whether applications are to be submitted to the Federal headquarters, regional or local office, or to a State or local government office.

Award Procedure:

The Federal Transit Administration approves the State's program of projects. FTA is responsible for providing notification of approval to the State designated agency.

Note: Grant payments may be made by a letter of credit, advance by Treasury check, or reimbursement by Treasury check. Awards may be made by the headquarters office directly to the applicant, an agency field office, a regional office, or by an authorized county office. The assistance may pass through the initial applicant for further distribution by intermediate level applicants to groups or individuals in the private sector.

Deadlines and process...


As prescribed by the State agency designated to administer the Section 5311 program.

Note: When available, this section indicates the deadlines for applications to the funding agency which will be stated in terms of the date(s) or between what dates the application should be received. When not available, applicants should contact the funding agency for deadline information.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

As prescribed by the State agency designated to administer the Section 5311 program. FTA approves grants on a quarterly release cycle.

Preapplication Coordination

This program is eligible for coverage under E.O. 12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for review.

Note: This section indicates whether any prior coordination or approval is required with governmental or nongovernmental units prior to the submission of a formal application to the federal funding agency.


Interested persons are afforded the opportunity of a public hearing for capital projects.

Note: In some cases, there are no provisions for appeal. Where applicable, this section discusses appeal procedures or allowable rework time for resubmission of applications to be processed by the funding agency. Appeal procedures vary with individual programs and are either listed in this section or applicants are referred to appeal procedures documented in the relevant Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).


As determined by the designated State agency.

Note: In some instances, renewal procedures may be the same as for the application procedure, e.g., for projects of a non-continuing nature renewals will be treated as new, competing applications; for projects of an ongoing nature, renewals may be given annually.

Who can benefit...

The general public, both users and nonusers, and private and public providers of public transportation in nonurbanized areas.

About this section:

This section lists the ultimate beneficiaries of a program, the criteria they must satisfy and who specifically is not eligible. The applicant and beneficiary will generally be the same for programs that provide assistance directly from a Federal agency. However, financial assistance that passes through State or local governments will have different applicants and beneficiaries since the assistance is transmitted to private sector beneficiaries who are not obligated to request or apply for the assistance.

What types of assistance...

Formula Grants

Allocations of money to States or their subdivisions in accordance with distribution formulas prescribed by law or administrative regulation, for activities of a continuing nature not confined to a specific project.

How much financial aid...

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Not applicable.

Note: This section lists the representative range (smallest to largest) of the amount of financial assistance available. These figures are based upon funds awarded in the past fiscal year and the current fiscal year to date. Also indicated is an approximate average amount of awards which were made in the past and current fiscal years.


(Grants) FY 03 $256,841,000; FY 04 est $219,727,000; and FY 05 est $353,744,000.

Note: The dollar amounts listed in this section represent obligations for the past fiscal year (PY), estimates for the current fiscal year (CY), and estimates for the budget fiscal year (BY) as reported by the Federal agencies. Obligations for non-financial assistance programs indicate the administrative expenses involved in the operation of a program.

Account Identification

FTA: 69-1129-0-1-401.

Note: Note: This 11-digit budget account identification code represents the account which funds a particular program. This code should be consistent with the code given for the program area as specified in Appendix III of the Budget of the United States Government.

Examples of funded projects...

A typical local recipient of Section 5311 operates a fleet of about six vans or small buses in demand responsive and fixed route service. Section 5311 provides replacement vehicles and covers about a quarter of the average $316,000 annual operating budget. The State receives Federal funds for a statewide program of projects.

About this section

This section indicates the different types of projects which have been funded in the past. Only projects funded under Project Grants or Direct Payments for Specified Use should be listed here. The examples give potential applicants an idea of the types of projects that may be accepted for funding. The agency should list at least five examples of the most recently funded projects.

Program accomplishments...

Since 1979 assistance has been provided to over 1,200 providers of rural and small urban transportation.

Criteria for selecting proposals...

As described by the State designated agency in its procedures or State management plan.

Assistance considerations...

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Funds will be apportioned annually to the States. Sums apportioned shall be available for obligation by the State designated agency for a period of 2 years following the close of the fiscal year for which sums are apportioned, and amounts remaining unobligated at the end of such period shall be apportioned among the States for the succeeding fiscal year. States usually fund local recipients on an annual cycle.

Formula and Matching Requirements

This program operates under a statutory allocation formula to the States as prescribed in 49 U.S.C., Chapter 53, Section 5311. The Federal share for eligible capital and project administration costs shall not exceed 80 percent of these costs; except projects designed specifically to increase the accessibility of public transportation to bicycles may be funded at 90 percent Federal share; vehicle related equipment required to comply with ADA or the Clean Air Act may be funded at 90 percent Federal match. The Federal share of the eligible operating deficit shall not exceed 50 percent. Income from purchase of service contracts with human service agencies may be used for the entire local share. (Many programs of the Department of Health and Human Services and other Federal agencies provide local match through purchase of service contracts.) In addition, current year funds can be transferred from the Federal Highway Administration for capital projects under Nonurbanized Area Formula Grants, 49 U.S.C. Chapter 53, Section 5311.

A formula may be based on population, per capita income, and other statistical factors. Applicants are informed whether there are any matching requirements to be met when participating in the cost of a project. In general, the matching share represents that portion of the project costs not borne by the Federal government. Attachment F of OMB Circular No. A-102 (Office of Management and Budget) sets forth the criteria and procedures for the evaluation of matching share requirements which may be cash or in-kind contributions made by State and local governments or other agencies, institutions, private organizations, or individuals to satisfy matching requirements of Federal grants or loans.

Cash contributions represent the grantees' cash outlay, including the outlay of money contributed to the grantee by other public agencies, institutions, private organizations, or individuals. When authorized by Federal regulation, Federal funds received from other grants may be considered as the grantees' cash contribution.

In-kind contributions represent the value of noncash contributions provided by the grantee, other public agencies and institutions, private organizations or individuals. In-kind contributions may consist of charges for real property and equipment, and value of goods and services directly benefiting and specifically identifiable to the grant program. When authorized by Federal legislation, property purchased with Federal funds may be considered as grantees' in-kind contribution.

Maintenance of effort (MOE) is a requirement contained in certain legislation, regulations, or administrative policies stating that a grantee must maintain a specified level of financial effort in a specific area in order to receive Federal grant funds, and that the Federal grant funds may be used only to supplement, not supplant, the level of grantee funds.

Post assistance requirements...


As requested by the State and Federal agencies administering the program. States submit annual reports to FTA.

Note: This section indicates whether program reports, expenditure reports, cash reports or performance monitoring are required by the Federal funding agency, and specifies at what time intervals (monthly, annually, etc.) this must be accomplished.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A- 133, "Audits of States, Local Governments and Nonprofit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend $500,000 or more in a year in Federal awards shall have a single or program specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, with certain exceptions as stated in OMB Circular No. A-133.

Note: This section discusses audits required by the Federal agency. The procedures and requirements for State and local governments and nonprofit entities are set forth in OMB Circular No. A-133. These requirements pertain to awards made within the respective State's fiscal year - not the Federal fiscal year, as some State and local governments may use the calendar year or other variation of time span designated as the fiscal year period, rather than that commonly known as the Federal fiscal year (from October 1st through September 30th).


Recipient is required to retain intact, for 3 years following submission of the final expenditure report, all contract documents, financial records, and supporting documents.

Note: This section indicates the record retention requirements and the type of records the Federal agency may require. Not included are the normally imposed requirements of the General Accounting Office. For programs falling under the purview of OMB Circular No. A-102, record retention is set forth in Attachment C. For other programs, record retention is governed by the funding agency's requirements.



49 U.S.C. 5311.

Note: This section lists the legal authority upon which a program is based (acts, amendments to acts, Public Law numbers, titles, sections, Statute Codes, citations to the U.S. Code, Executive Orders, Presidential Reorganization Plans, and Memoranda from an agency head).

Regulations, Guidelines, And Literature

FTA Circular 9040.1E, Nonurbanized Area Formula Program Guidance and Grant Application instructions.

Contact information...

Web Sites
Regional Or Local Office

See Additional Contact Information - FMR Help for the address of Federal Transit Administration Regional Offices. State Designated Agency: The Governor in each State has designated a State agency to administer the Section 5311 program. This should be the first contact point. Regional Offices: A person from each Federal Transit Administration Regional Office is available to answer questions about Federal regulations related to the Nonurbanized Formula Program.

Note: This section lists the agency contact person, address and telephone number of the Federal Regional or Local Office(s) to be contacted for detailed information regarding a program such as: (1) current availability of funds and the likelihood of receiving assistance within a given period; (2) pre-application and application forms required; (3) whether a pre-application conference is recommended; (4) assistance available in preparation of applications; (5) whether funding decisions are made at the headquarters, regional or local level; (6) application renewal procedures (including continuations and supplementals) or appeal procedures for rejected applications; and (7) recently published program guidelines and material. However, for most federal programs, this section will instruct the reader to consult the so-called Appendix IV of the Catalog due to the large volume of Regional and Local Office Contacts for most agencies. This information is provided in Additional Contact Information (see below).

Headquarters Office

Federal Transit Administration, Office of Program Management, Office of Capital and Formula Assistance, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. Lorna Wilson Telephone: (202) 366-0893.

Note: This section lists names and addresses of the office at the headquarters level with direct operational responsibility for managing a program. A telephone number is provided in cases where a Regional or Local Office is not normally able to answer detailed inquiries concerning a program. Also listed are the name(s) and telephone number(s) of the information contact person(s) who can provide additional program information to applicants.

Additional Contact Information (Appendix IV)

Due to the large volume of regional and local office contacts for most agencies, full contact information is also provided separately here in a PDF format: