COVID-19 Policy Updates

The COVID-19 outbreak has forced AACRAO members to maneuver through uncommon territory. In spring 2020, institutions moved quickly to establish new practices and policy exceptions around their actions to shift courses and services online or to other remote delivery. Colleges and universities continue to navigate uncertainty, campus safety concerns, limited resources, among myriad other issues. 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

In March, Congress approved a $1.9 trillion supplemental coronavirus relief package. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act includes $40 billion dedicated to higher education institutions, at least half of which must be spent on emergency financial aid grants to students. The relief funds provided under the ARP Act represent the largest federal effort so far to address the crippling impact of the pandemic on colleges and universities. December's Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) combined $900 billion in COVID-19 relief with $1.4 trillion in government funding through September 2021. The CRRSAA included a $22.7 billion higher education relief fund on top of the $14 billion colleges received in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act last March. The federal stimulus measures provide critical support and funding, but fall short of the $120 billion request from the higher education community to address the unprecedented disruption and financial fallout of the pandemic.

President Biden recently unveiled a pair of sweeping proposals to overhaul the infrastructure of the country, which include significant investments in community colleges, research, and minority-serving institutions. The American Jobs Plan calls for $12 billion for community college facilities and technology as well as tens of billions of dollars for research and development facilities with a particular emphasis on research incubators at MSIs. The American Families Plan would invest $109 billion for two years of free community college and $80 billion to increase the maximum Pell Grant award, extending eligibility for both to DACA recipients, among other things. 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 COVID 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

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Latest Guidance

U.S. Education Department
Office of Postsecondary Education

COVID-19 Information and Resources Updated April 2021 

New HEERF Guidance on Expenses through the Pandemic and Calculating Lost Revenue 3/19/21

Updates on CRRSAA Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II Updated March 2021

Updates on CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Updated January 2021

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

FAQ on HEERF II under the CRRSAA 1/14/2021

FAQ 3 on HEERF under CARES Act 11/20/20

FAQ 2 on HEERF under CARES Act 6/16/20

FAQ 1 on HEERF under CARES Act April 2020

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 Updated March 2021

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

Updated SEVP COVID-19 Guidance for the 2021-22 Academic Year 4/26/21

Frequently Asked Questions for SEVP Stakeholders about COVID-19 Updated 4/26/21

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

COVID-19: Scenarios for SEVP-certified Schools for Emergency Procedures 3/13/20

U.S. State Department
Updated COVID-19 Travel Advisories

Agency changes the determination basis of location-specific Travel Advisory levels moving forward.

National Interest Exceptions to COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Updated Guidance for Students from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland 4/26/21

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Communities, Schools & Workplaces

Interim Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education Administrators for SARS-CoV-2 Testing Updated 3/17/21

Considerations for Institutes of Higher Education Updated 4/27/21

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Education and Training

COVID-19 FAQs for School Certifying Officials (SCOs) Updated 4/22/21

Important Update on GI Bill Benefits 3/20/20

U.S. Internal Revenue Service

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

Other Resources


COVID-19 Reference Page: Student Portion of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Updated 3/19/21

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II) Reference Page 3/23/21

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) Reference Page 4/1/21


Financial Assistance for DACA Recipients Amid the Pandemic April 2020

AACRAO Executive Director Updates

Trump Administration Rescinds Directive on International Students Following Swift and Fierce Response from Higher Ed, Students, States, and Others 7/16/20

AACRAO Responds to Trump Administration Ban on International Students from Online-Only Instruction 7/9/20

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