Federal Emergency Relief
Coronavirus Stimulus Packages
Congressional negotiations over a supplemental coronavirus relief package stalled ahead of the August recess. Lawmakers continue to spar over the overall cost of the measure, as well as key issues such as liability protections for schools and higher education institutions, a proposal that Democrats oppose.
In May, the Democratic-led House passed a $3 trillion stimulus package that would provide $37 billion of additional funding for colleges and universities, specify that undocumented students are eligible for emergency grants, and expand relief for student
loan borrowers beyond what was contained in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, H.R. 6800, includes numerous provisions that aim to minimize the unprecedented disruption and financial fallout of the pandemic. View bill summary.
More recently, Senate Republicans introduced a $1 trillion stimulus proposal, their opening bid in discussions with Democrats. The Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act would
provide $29 billion in additional grant funding for colleges and universities. The proposed measure does not define student eligibility for the emergency aid. However, it does not prevent the Education Department from imposing restrictions, leaving in place they agency's policy excluding of undocumented immigrants and millions of other students who are not eligible for Title IV aid from receiving emergency grants. View bill summary.
The HEROES Act and the HEALS Act contain much-needed new funding for higher education institutions, but both proposals fall short of the $46 billion request from the higher education community. Additionally, the proposed funding does not include the $74 billion that AACRAO and other higher education associations estimated would be the price tag for colleges and universities
to safely reopen campuses.
As lawmakers continue discussions on the next broad-based funding measure, AACRAO remains engaged in efforts to encourage Congress and federal agencies to continue to provide emergency relief to students and institutions during and after the coronavirus
Meanwhile, federal agencies have worked to provide regulatory flexibility to colleges and universities as they navigate COVID-19-related issues. The U.S. Education Department issued guidance for institutions as they close campuses and move classes online
amid coronavirus concerns. The agency also extended new flexibilities for students in the form of suspended interest on and payment of federally held student loans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have
provided additional information and resources for students and institutions, as well.