COVID-19 Policy Updates

The COVID-19 outbreak has forced AACRAO members to navigate through uncommon territory. Institutions are moving quickly to establish new practices and policy exceptions around their actions to move courses and services online or to other remote delivery for the foreseeable future. AACRAO is actively engaged in efforts to urge Congress and federal agencies to address the costly and complex challenges our members and their students are facing. 

Learn more about the coronavirus and its impacts for admissions officers and registrars on AACRAO's COVID-19 and Crisis Practices resource pages.


Federal Emergency Relief

Coronavirus Stimulus Packages

Congress so far has approved a number of COVID-19 legislative stimulus packages designed to provide some economic relief to individuals and industries impacted by the pandemic. One recent bill, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, includes some $14 billion for students and higher education institutions. It also includes several waivers for a wide range of rules governing federal financial aid for college students. The legislative package provides urgently needed funding to students and colleges, however the assistance falls far below what will be required to keep institutions and students afloat.

Senate Democrats recently introduced a $430 billion coronavirus aid relief package for childcare and education. The Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act would provide an additional $132 billion in funding to colleges and universities. The package is more comprehensive than what Republicans are expected to propose, but stakes out Democrats' negotiating position as the Senate gears up for another economic rescue package. The Democratic proposal would go beyond the $71 billion institutions are seeking to help them resume in-person instruction.

In May, the Democratic-led House passed a $3 trillion stimulus package that would provide billions of dollars 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 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. The measure falls short of the $46 billion request from the higher education community, but contains significant new funding for higher education institutions. The bill would also provide additional relief for student loan borrowers and includes numerous provisions that would allow greater flexibility for institutions to navigate COVID-19-related issues. View bill summary.

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 pandemic.

Regulatory Flexibility

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.

Latest News

 Member login required.

Latest Guidance

U.S. Education Department
Office of Postsecondary Education

COVID-19 Information and Resources June 2020 NEW

Updated Guidance for Interruptions of Study Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) 6/16/20 NEW

CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Supplemental FAQs 6/16/20 NEW

Updated Statement on CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund May 2020

CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund FAQs April 2020

Updated Guidance for Interruptions of Study Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) 4/3/20

COVID-19 FAQs 3/20/20

Guidance for Interruptions of Study Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) 3/20/20

Information for Accrediting Agencies Regarding Temporary Flexibilities Provided to Coronavirus Impacted Institutions or Accrediting Agencies 3/17/20

Student Privacy Policy Office

Student Privacy – FERPA and Virtual Learning During COVID-19 Webinar 3/30/20

FERPA & COVID-19 FAQs March 2020

FERPA & Virtual Learning Related Resources 3/20/20

Office of Federal Student Aid

FAQs for Federal Student Loan Borrowers April 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Communities, Schools & Workplaces

Interim Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education Administrators for SARS-CoV-2 Testing 6/30/20 NEW

Considerations for Institutes of Higher Education 5/19/20

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Education and Training

COVID-19 FAQs for School Certifying Officials (SCOs) 4/2/20

Important Update on GI Bill Benefits 3/20/20

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Student and Exchange Visitor Program

COVID-19 Guidance for SEVP Stakeholders 3/13/20

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Potential Procedural Adaptations for F and M Nonimmigrant Students 3/9/20

2019 Novel Coronavirus and F and M Nonimmigrants 1/29/20

School Reporting Template for COVID-19 March 2020

U.S. Internal Revenue Service

FAQs on Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund and Emergency Financial Aid Grants under the CARES Act May 2020

Other Resources


Short Summary of HEROES Act 5/14/20


CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Timeline 6/17/20

COVID-19 Reference Page: Student Portion of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund April 2020


Financial Assistance for DACA Recipients Amid the COVID-19 Crisis April 2020

AACRAO Executive Director Updates

Education Department and NSLDS Reporting Flexibility 4/29/20

COVID-19 Crisis Practices and FERPA Guidance on Remote Work and Virtual Learning 3/24/20

COVID-19 Outbreak 3/19/20