Program Updates in Microsoft 365 for Education
Published Aug 01 2023 10:00 AM 68.1K Views

Today Microsoft is introducing changes to our offerings across our Microsoft 365 for Education suite that will place limits on storage and retire the Office A1 Plus program.

 

While the increase in consumption of technology in education has been beneficial, it has made free, unlimited storage plans prohibitive, and become a large vector for security risks and fraud. Our goal with these changes is to continue to offer education customers generous allowances, new tools to support these changes, and time for thoughtful transitions. 

 

Most schools (99.96%) are well below their storage allotment. While most customers will not need to reduce their current storage, all customers will need to start considering and implementing new policies for information management and governance. Some of the benefits we expect to see include helping schools reduce some of the security risks associated with legacy storage and data sprawl, a top concern for 80% of IT Leaders1, while also benefiting our shared environmental footprint.  

 

The Office A1 Plus program was introduced in 2015 to ease the provisioning burden for IT of moving users to the cloud. While this program is no longer needed, we will continue to offer a no-cost option and significant discounts off commercial pricing.

 

Storage changes

For education customers with Microsoft 365 or Office 365, beginning at your next contract renewal, but no sooner than August 1, 2024, all school tenants will receive 100TB of free pooled storage across OneDrive, SharePoint, and Exchange, with an additional 50GB or 100GB of pooled storage per paid user for A3 and A5 subscriptions, respectively.  In addition, effective February 1, 2024, users of Office 365 A1 (no-cost subscription) will be limited to a maximum of 100GB of OneDrive storage per user within the school tenant’s 100TB of pooled storage. * 

 

To help schools with this transition, Microsoft is delivering a set of free tools to help manage the process end-to-end including tools to visualize current storage allocation and usage across OneDrive, SharePoint and Exchange, and tools to more easily manage stored data and end-of-life files that are no longer needed. With new tools, all schools can now better manage their information and set thoughtful policies for governance.  Schools will also have the option to purchase additional incremental storage or explore cost-effective Azure storage options based on their needs.  

 

Office A1 Plus retirement

On August 1, 2024, Microsoft will retire the Office 365 A1 Plus program for Education. Office 365 A1 Plus is a free Office subscription that include Office desktop apps for qualified schools that purchased Office institution-wide for faculty and staff. After all existing Office 365 A1 Plus licenses expire on August 1, 2024, schools will have the choice to utilize Office 365 A1, our no-cost option, or Microsoft 365 for Education suites at significant discounts off commercial pricing.

 

Why is Microsoft making these changes? 

With the move to the cloud, stored files, data and unused accounts have increased significantly over time, as more and more stored files and data have proliferated without a plan for end-of-life. This is not sustainable from a cost or environmental sustainability perspective, and it puts education institutions and their students at risk for a data breach. Today, education is the most affected industry by cybercrime, with K12 receivingover 80% of workplace malware attacks alone.  

 

From a sustainability standpoint, stored files no longer in use have an impact on our carbon footprint with over half of all data stored byorganizations not serving a usefulpurpose. Storage of this dark data takes up space on servers and results in increased electricity consumption, generating 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 alone.2 Microsoft is committed to both the security and privacy of school and student data as well as reducing our collective carbon footprint. Already, our datacenters are built with the highest environmental standards in mind. With this change, education customers can help do their part.   

 

Finally, Microsoft’s mission in education is to empower students, faculty, and schools to achieve more. As Microsoft continues to invest in new experiences that benefit all learners,  such as the new learning accelerators introduced earlier this year to help students with reading and other essential skills, we want to ensure that our approach to storage is sustainable.  Microsoft continues to be committed to providing Office 365 A1 to schools at no cost and Microsoft 365 for Education suites at significant discounts off commercial pricing. With these new updates we can continue to invest in meaningful innovation while offering those services to more institutions around the world and continue to pursue our mission to empower every student on the planet to achieve more.  

 

Next steps  

School IT admins can see your school’s current storage profile and access the new storage management tools in the M365 Admin Center.  

 

For more information about our storage changes and a demo of the new tools, visit our web site and view our FAQ. 

 

Microsoft has provided step-by-step guidance and best practices to help schools determine and implement appropriate storage policies. For storage guidance download the Microsoft 365 Storage Guidance ebook.    

 

For more information about Office 365 A1 Plus program retirement and to learn about options and next steps, visit our web site

 

 

* With pooled storage, a school’s total storage limit is the maximum amount of storage all users combined can use. Office 365 A1, a free subscription, will not add additional storage to the pool and will be limited to a maximum of 100GB of OneDrive storage consumed within the school tenant’s 100TB of pooled storage. For details, please view our FAQ. 

 

Sources:  

  1. IDC Report: Rubrik Finds Almost Half of Organizations Struggle with Data Management Deficiencies 
  2. World Economic Forum,What is ‘dark data’ and how is it raising carbon footprints? | World Economic Forum (weforum.org) 

 

 

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