ED Activates Emergency Response Center in Wake of Hurricane Harvey Devastation

By Brittany Hackett, Communications Staff
The Department of Education (ED) on Tuesday activated its emergency response contact center to provide assistance and information to stakeholders impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
Stakeholders seeking information, resources, and relief from ED-based administrative requirements should contact ED toll free at 1-844-348-4082 or via email at HarveyRelief@ed.gov. ED has directed student loan servicers to give impacted borrowers flexibility in managing their loan payments in the wake of Harvey. Borrowers can receive more information by contacting their student loan servicer or calling 1-800-4FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) to find out their servicer’s contact information.
In addition to these actions and directives, ED is holding internal agency briefings and participating in daily interagency briefings led by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to determine the extent of the damage to educational infrastructure in affected states, as well as the needs of ED’s education stakeholders impacted by Harvey. 
ED has also reached out to the Texas Education Agency, the Louisiana Department of Education, and impacted higher education institutions to coordinate its recovery activities with these agencies and institutions. ED last week contacted more than 200 colleges and universities located in the hurricane’s path by and will provide these instituions with administrative flexibilities related to federal student aid rules, according to a press release from the Department. ED sent pre- and post-disaster guidance to affected institutions outlining special resources they can use to prepare and respond to the natural disaster.
“The full extent of the Hurricane’s impact will not be known for some time, but we will stay in close contact with our partners,” ED stated in its press release.
The Department on Tuesday also issued Dear Colleague Letter GEN-17-08, providing updated information regarding the impact of a “major disaster” on the administration of the Title IV student assistance programs. The new guidance supplements all information in the Federal Student Aid Handbook and supersedes guidance included in previous Dear Colleague Letters, including Dear Colleague Letter GEN-10-16, which is intended to help Title IV student financial aid participants dealing with a federally declared major disaster. 
At least 10 people have been killed and many more injured from Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico that is hitting primarily Texas and Louisiana. Heavy rainfall from the hurricane has led to massive flooding throughout the area, particularly in Houston, TX, which has so far received more than 30 inches in rain. The heavy rainfall is expected to continue through Wednesday, and some forecasters are predicting as much as 50 inches of rain in some areas.
The NASFAA staff and Board of Directors are sending good thoughts and prayers for safety to all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, as well as its victims and their families. Schools that are having trouble connecting with the Department regarding the impact of Hurricane Harvey, may use this form to let us know.


Publication Date: 8/29/2017

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