With schools across the nation facing some steep budget cuts, they need all the help they can get. Luckily, some companies are willing to step in and lend a hand.

In order to help cash-strapped school districts, anti-virus software company Avast is offering its "business class" anti-virus protection to schools and colleges completely free of charge.

Schools across America now have access to a powerful tool to help them stymie hackers. And it's free.

Anti-virus firm Avast last month quietly began making its business-class anti-virus suite of software available — gratis — to local school districts and public colleges and universities.

Avast is best known for the free anti-virus software used by more than 170 million people globally, including more than 10 million U.S. consumers. The Prague-based software company makes money by selling premium versions to consumers and companies.

In this instance, the software maker is letting schools and colleges use the paid version, which includes tools to centrally manage protection on all of an institution's computers, including Web and database servers.

"We're not going to charge schools for this, not now, not later," says Jonathan Penn, Avast's director of strategy. "We're establishing this to help schools that are struggling more than ever for funding."

Schools are becoming a popular target for hackers, due to the large amount of personal data that can be stolen, as well as the large computer servers that, if hijacked, can be used to send out tons of spam. And with districts all over the country slashing funds, many of these school can't afford to protect themselves against these cyber threats. So kudos to the guys at Avast for looking out for the students and doing what they can to help out these school districts.