Is there any aid that the institutions of higher education are eligible for?

In the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act, recently enacted into law, Congress made just over $13.9 billion available for a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund for institutions of higher education to directly support students facing urgent needs related to coronavirus and to support colleges and universities as they cope with the immediate effects of coronavirus and school closures.  From this amount, just over $12.5 billion will be available to all institutions of higher education based on the proportion of Pell Grant and non-Pell Grant full-time-equivalent students who were not enrolled exclusively in distance education prior to the coronavirus emergency.  Over $1 billion in additional funding is also provided to minority-serving institutions and HBCUs.  Finally, $348 million is available to the Secretary of Education to provide grants to institutions that have the greatest unmet needs related to the coronavirus.

Congress has also made available $3 billion in flexible formula funding to allow governors to address the needs of their elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education.  Public colleges are eligible for additional funding if the Governor determines they have been most significantly impacted by the coronavirus or if the Governor deems such institution essential for carrying out emergency educational services to students, such as child care and early childhood education and social and emotional support.


What forms of relief are post-secondary students impacted by COVID-19 eligible for?

Students will be eligible for emergency financial aid grants from their institutions to meet unexpected and urgent needs related to the coronavirus, such as expenses related to food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care.  Students who are currently participating in the Federal Work Study program can continue to receive work study payments from their institution if they are unable to work due to workplace closures.

Relief also exists for students who must drop out of school due to COVID-19.  Students will have the portion of their student loan taken out for the semester (or equivalent) canceled.  Further, students who received a Pell Grant or subsidized student loan will not have those types of financial aid counted toward their lifetime eligibility limits.


I need help paying my student loans.  What relief is available?

Borrowers do not need to make payments on student loans held by the federal government (Direct Loans and FFEL Loans held by the U.S. Department of Education) through September 30, 2020.  Borrowers with commercially-held FFEL loans and Perkins Loans are not eligible, and private student loan borrowers are also not eligible.  No interest will accrue on such loans for the same time period.

During this period, borrowers will not be subject to involuntary collections (garnishment of wages, tax refunds, and Social Security benefits) and will not have any negative credit reporting for late payments during this time period.  Student borrowers will continue to receive credit toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Income-Driven Repayment forgiveness, and loan rehabilitation even though they will not be making payments.  If borrowers want to continue making payments during this time to pay down principal and previously accrued interest (since no interest is accruing as of March 13), they are free to do so.


How will funds under the Education Stabilization Fund flow to school districts?

Funds will be allocated on the same basis as the Title I-A formula under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).


Can funding for K-12 schools be used to support online or distance learning for students?

Yes.  Funds that school districts receive under the Education Stabilization Fund may be used to purchase broadband connectivity and educational technology for students, including computers, tablets, software, and hotspots.  Funds may also be used to purchase assistive technology or adaptive equipment for students with disabilities, and to support professional development for educators and other school staff to support online learning.


Do K-12 students who attend private schools get any relief?

Yes.  Under the Education Stabilization Fund, school districts that receive funding have to provide equitable services to low-income children who attend private schools in the same manner as they provide those services under the ESEA.


Can the Secretary of Education waive any provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)? 

No.  No new waiver authority was granted to Secretary DeVos for IDEA.  Students maintain all rights afforded under IDEA.  The bill does direct Secretary DeVos to report to Congress in 30 days on her recommendations for waivers under IDEA.  However, it would take an Act of Congress to implement any of her recommendations.


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Last Updated: April 1, 2020