NASFAA Mention: Democrats in Congress Introduce Bills to Limit Financial Harm to Students During the Coronavirus Pandemic

"Democrats in Congress are trying to limit the impact of the coronavirus on students, as K-12 schools and higher education institutions close or move online because of the coronavirus pandemic," Diverse Issues in Higher Education reports. 

"On Friday, Sen. Patty Murray, introduced the Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act alongside Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Rep. Bobby Scott, chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, introduced a sister bill in the House of Representatives.


Notably, the bill would also give students temporary waivers so they don’t have to pay back Pell Grants or repay student loans if they stop school during the disrupted term. Plus, the bill relaxes rules around financial aid that depends on students achieving certain markers of academic progress, given the current tumult as students shift their studies online.

Federal financial aid is usually governed by 'a lot of very tight rules and regulations,' said Megan Coval, vice president of policy and federal relations at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. So, measures like this aim to give schools 'maximum flexibility' so they can continue to offer students the aid they need. The Department of Education has been a part of that effort as well, she noted, waiving interest on federal student loans as of Friday.

This flexibility is important at a time rife with what-if scenarios for financial aid recipients: What if students rely on work-study jobs to pay the rent but they can’t go to campus? What if Pell Grant recipients drop out during the last semester of their eligibility because of coronavirus-related emergencies? Does the interrupted semester count?

'I think what the [Department of Education] has been able to do and what Congress is signaling it’s interested in doing is saying, 'In this time, in this dire circumstance, we don’t want students to be penalized,'' Coval said."

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

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