Upcoming Microsoft 365 for Education Licensing Changes

Makayla Mota

Does your school use the Microsoft 365 for Education suite? There are two upcoming licensing changes that you need to be aware of! These changes will take place on August 1, 2024—but it is never too early to be prepared. Let Connection help with any questions or concerns you have leading up to, during, and after the transition.

Office 365 A1 Plus Retirement

The Office 365 A1 Plus Program will be retired on August 1, 2024. The program was introduced in 2015 to ease the provisioning burden on IT professionals in education institutions as they moved to the cloud. For qualified schools that purchased Office institution-wide for faculty and staff, the A1 Plus Program included a free subscription and Office desktop apps.

Why Is It Being Retired?

Although it was intended to create an easier transition to the cloud, it ultimately led to complexities and issues that inadvertently steered customers to non-compliancy. Microsoft 365 A3 and A5 licenses are easier to provision now, which both addresses customers’ requirements and the need for a transitional program. 

What Steps Do I Need to Take?

The first step is to check the Microsoft Admin portal to see if you have any A1 Plus licenses in your tenant. 

• Navigate to the Microsoft 365 Admin Portal: https://admin.microsoft.com
• In the navigation menu on the left side of the screen, select Billing > Your Products
Identify any instances of the Office 365 A1 Plus for Faculty and Office 365 A1 Plus for Student assigned licenses

Once you have identified what users are on A1 Plus licenses, you must determine what license they should be assigned. The following SKUs are what is recommended by Microsoft. Work with your Connection Account Team for help with deciphering your needs:

• Office 365 A1: Free online Office productivity and learning tools. Includes Web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Microsoft Teams, and additional classroom tools.

• Microsoft 365 A3: A comprehensive platform for learning and working with integrated security and management. A3 includes premium tools for learning and skill building, increased security, AI-infused productivity tools, and device controls for management and student safety. 

• Microsoft 365 A5: Microsoft 365 A5 provides the most comprehensive platform for teaching, learning, and work. Microsoft 365 A5 is for institutions who want a single productivity, communications, and collaboration platform for work and learning in addition to the most advanced security. 

Of note: for customers who have additional light users or want to use desktop apps, there is an option to purchase Office 365 A3 licenses or Office desktop apps as an add-on.

Users of A1 Plus will not lose their data once it retires. However, if no action is taken prior to the retirement date, users will be downgraded to an A1 license resulting in access to only the online Web apps. 

Microsoft recommends transitioning users early and providing guidance on what they can expect with their new license if changes occur. Please see the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) sheet provided by Microsoft and contact your Connection Account Team for more information as you navigate these licensing changes.

Storage Changes

In addition to the A1 Plus program’s retirement, Microsoft is changing their storage offerings across the Microsoft 365 for Education suite. 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 (not including Student Use Benefits). 

Of note: technical enforcement will begin August 1, 2024. Most schools are well below their storage allotment. For any mid-enrollment customer over that storage limit on August 1, 2024, Microsoft will provide additional storage at no cost through the length of the customer’s current term.

Schools can also purchase additional pooled storage to add to the tenant pool in 10TB increments for $300 USD (estimated retail) monthly. To find your capacity, use this calculation: 100TB + (#A3 paid users x 50GB) + (#A5 paid users x 100 GB) + (additional storage purchased) = capacity/limit.

Also, effective February 1, 2024, users of Office 365 A1 will be limited to a maximum of 100GB of OneDrive storage within the school tenant’s 100TB of pooled storage. Schools will have the option to purchase additional incremental storage based on their needs.

Why Is Microsoft Making Storage Changes?

After a significant increase of unused accounts, stored files, and data as institutions move to the cloud, there is not an end-of-life plan for these files, putting education institutions and their students at risk for a data breach. Not to mention that stored files no longer in use significantly impact our carbon footprint! Storage of this “dark” data takes up space on servers and results in increased electricity consumption. Microsoft is committed to both security and privacy within a school as well as reducing their carbon footprint.

Help When and Where You Need It

With the help from a free set of tools to manage the entire process from visualizing current storage allocation across OneDrive, SharePoint, and Exchange, to tools that make it easier to manage stored data and files that are no longer needed, Microsoft is committed to helping schools with this transition. Currently, most schools are well below their storage allotment. To see your school’s storage profile and access the new storage management tools, go to the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. Your Account Team at Connection is here to provide additional licensing and storage guidance as you begin to delve into your school’s profile to determine what steps you need to take to prepare for the upcoming changes. Our Premium Microsoft Landscape Optimization offers a User Profile and Cloudstack workshop to help you discern your options and provide a tactical approach to support your Microsoft investment strategy. Reach out to your Connection Account Team or watch our vlog for more information.

Makayla Mota is a Partner Marketing Specialist at Connection with a background in educational technology training on Microsoft solutions in the classroom. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family, antiquing, hiking, and watching movies.