President Joe Biden on Monday signed a bill that ended the COVID-19 national emergency, about a month before it was set to expire along with a separate public health emergency, leaving questions regarding what that means for pandemic flexibilities and waivers related to federal student aid programs.
In January, Biden announced that both national and public health emergencies tied to the COVID-19 pandemic would end on May 11, 2023. However on Monday, Biden signed into law legislation that terminates the national emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but does not impact the public health emergency, which is still set to expire on May 11. The legislation was initially sponsored by House Republicans, who have called to terminate both national and public health emergencies.
“Since Congress voted to terminate the national emergency earlier than anticipated, the administration has worked to expedite its wind down and provide as much notice as possible to potentially impacted individuals,” an official from the Biden administration told CNN.
In addition to waivers and flexibilities granted directly by the CARES Act, the administration used the emergency declarations to justify a number of higher education initiatives and other regulatory flexibilities related to federal student aid programs, as listed in a chart from the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) published in January 2021. NASFAA is currently waiting for guidance from the Department of Education (ED) as to how the end of the national emergency may impact those various waivers and flexibilities.
Because many of FSA’s listed waivers and flexibilities are noted to phase out when the national emergency declaration is rescinded, it could mean that the phase out of those provisions began on April 10, when Biden signed the legislation. As NASFAA’s AskRegs Knowledgebase notes, ED indicated that it will be issuing an electronic announcement that provides clarification now that Biden has ended the national emergency. NASFAA is currently advising institutions to not make any changes until ED’s guidance has been released.
Stay tuned to NASFAA's Today's News for additional information as it becomes available.
Publication Date: 4/12/2023