"In normal times, colleges and universities in the U.S. couldn't simply flip a switch to become virtual learning institutions and continue to provide students federal financial aid without proper approval. But these are not normal times, as more than 100 institutions – and counting – have canceled in-person classes in an attempt to slow the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19 disease," according to U.S. News & World Report.
"The U.S. Department of Education announced March 5 that it would make significant adjustments in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization last Wednesday.
'One flexibility a lot of institutions are using is the ability to switch from in-person classes to distance ed and not have to go through all of those approval processes. They can just make that change right now in the middle of the term,' says Karen McCarthy, director of policy analysis at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
'If an institution chooses that option, those students are fully eligible for the financial aid they have received and there will not be those financial aid disruptions there would be if the institution completely closed,' she says.
Despite this guidance, the chaos that has ensued following the unprecedented campus closures and class cancellations has hit financial aid departments as they attempt to address student questions and concerns. More answers and flexibility in federal financial aid may come in emergency legislation, McCarthy says.
'There are unaddressed issues that the Department of Education doesn't have the authority to be flexible on; those are issues for Congress.'"
NASFAA's "Notable Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Articles included under the notable headlines section are not written by NASFAA, but rather by external sources. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.
Publication Date: 3/17/2020