Major Disaster Guidance for Institutions in States Impacted by COVID-19

By Megan Walter, NASFAA Policy & Federal Relations Staff

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has declared multiple states and U.S. territories affected by COVID-19 as major disaster areas — and it is expected that more states may be added to the disaster area list in the future. These declarations free up emergency funds that can be sent to "state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures," and in some cases, trigger the Department of Education’s (ED) general disaster guidance. 

For affected parties needing help, refer to the Dear Colleague Letter GEN-17-08, which provides general guidance for regulatory relief to students, institutions, lenders, guaranty agencies, and their servicers in administering the federal student financial aid programs. Relief under GEN-17-08 only applies to states with disasters designated eligible to receive “Individual Assistance” by FEMA.

Under GEN-17-08, a Title IV program participant that does not carry out a normally required action when administering the Title IV programs on the basis of the guidance in this letter must document that fact and indicate which alternative procedures, if any, were used. As a reminder, the flexibilities given under GEN-17-08 come in addition to the flexibilities that have been granted to institutions by ED, as well as the recent stimulus bill.

NASFAA encourages institutions to continue to monitor the FEMA website for updates to their state, territory, or district.

For more information and resources on how the spread of the novel coronavirus is impacting student financial aid, please refer to NASFAA's COVID-19 Web Center.


Publication Date: 4/2/2020

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