COVID-19 Policy Updates

The COVID-19 outbreak has forced AACRAO members to maneuver through uncommon territory. This spring, institutions moved quickly to establish new practices and policy exceptions around their actions to shift courses and services online or to other remote delivery. This fall, 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

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 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 June 2020 

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

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

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

CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund FAQs 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 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

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

UPDATED COVID-19 Guidance for SEVP Stakeholders 7/24/20 NEW

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


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

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