Washington Wrap up – March 24, 2020

Below is an abridged version of RAMC’s weekly Washington Wrap Up. Find out more about Wrap Up and other RAMC resources here.

March 24, 2020

The House and Senate both passed the second COVID-19 relief package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R.6201), and the President subsequently signed the bill into law. The bill provides $1 billion in nutritional aid, expands access to COVID-19 testing and expands sick leave benefits.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released the Senate Republican proposal for a third COVID-19 relief package, which will be the starting point for negotiations with Democrats. With respect to education, this package proposes a number of student aid and institutional flexibility provisions, provides the U.S. Secretary of Education with broad authority to waive provisions under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Higher Education Act and the Career and Technical Education Act, and provides for the suspension of student loan payments for three months for all borrowers (with the option to extend this suspension to a total of six months).

The White House requested an additional $45.8 billion for COVID-19 relief, including $150 million for education-related relief.

In response to COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) waived the requirement for in-person accreditor site visits, instead allowing accreditors to conduct virtual site visits.

The President announced late last week that the Administration would waive student loan interest payments in response to COVID-19.

The President announced today that ED will not enforce Federal standardized testing requirements for K-12 schools this year and that Federal student loan borrowers could suspend loan repayments for 60 days without penalty.

ED published a fact sheet on addressing the risk of COVID-19 in schools while protecting the civil rights of students.

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) completed its review of the proposed competency-based education (CBE) regulations that were agreed upon during negotiated rulemaking last spring.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) released updated guidance on flexibilities to rules that normally restrict international students from counting more than one online course toward the requirement that they maintain a full-time course of study.

Education News Headlines
[Click on the link to read the article online]
American Federation of Teachers Endorses Joe Biden for President [Education Week]

Trump administration lets borrowers suspend federal student loan payments [The Washington Post]

Virus crisis slams college admissions: Some schools extend deadlines for students to accept offers [The Washington Post]

Coronavirus education upheaval: Shorter online versions of Advanced Placement exams replace regular AP tests [The Washington Post]

Excelsior Scholarship increased free college awards in 2018, but not for community colleges [Inside Higher Ed]

Coronavirus outbreak piles short-term costs and long-term uncertainty on college and university finances [Inside Higher Ed]

Congress protects GI Bill benefits as colleges move classes online [The Washington Post]

Nonprofits Seek $60 Billion Federal Aid Package [The Chronicle of Philanthropy]

3 ways community colleges can support students during the coronavirus crisis [Education Dive]

How coronavirus and the recession will affect open-access colleges [Inside Higher Ed]

Colleges go pass/fail to address coronavirus [Inside Higher Ed]

UC regents postpone vote on tuition increase, citing coronavirus uncertainties [The Los Angeles Times]

House bill would provide $1.2B to help college students during coronavirus pandemic [Education Dive]

Coronavirus Crisis Underscores the Traits of a Resilient College [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

Amid coronavirus, colleges wrestle with a chaotic recruiting environment [Education Week]

With spotty sick leave and health care, adjunct professors worry about the spread of coronavirus [The Washington Post]

Disruptions to California community colleges possible into next academic year, chancellor says [EdSource]

Committee News and Schedule, Schedule for House and Senate Floor:
Speaker of the House
Press Release: Pelosi Statement on House Passage of GI Bill Flexibility for Student Veterans During Coronavirus Crisis

House Education and Labor Committee 
Press Release: Chairman Scott Statement on the CARES Act

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions  
Press Release: CORONAVIRUS: Murray, Democrats Urge Trump Administration to Step Up and Help Student Loan Borrowers Impacted by the Coronavirus

Press Release: Schumer, Murray, Brown, And Warren Unveil Bold, New Plan To Cancel Student Loan Payments For Duration Of Coronavirus Emergency And Provide Minimum $10K Payoff For All Federal Student Loan Borrowers

Senate Committee on Appropriations
Press Release: BREAKING: Senate Approps Vice Chair Leahy REAX To McConnell/Trump Stimulus Proposal + Analysis From The Vice Chair’s Office.

House Committee on Appropriations 
Press Release: Lowey Statement on President Trump Signing Families First Coronavirus Response Act

House Committee on the Budget
Press ReleaseChairman Yarmuth Statement on Signing of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into Law

U.S. Department of Education and the Administration:
ED Press Release: Delivering on President Trump’s Promise, Secretary DeVos Suspends Federal Student Loan Payments, Waives Interest During National Emergency

White House Speech: Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing

DOL Press Release: U.S. Department Of The Treasury, Irs And The U.S. Department Of Labor Announce Plan To Implement Coronavirus-Related Paid Leave For Workers And Tax Credits For Small And Midsize Businesses To Swiftly Recover The Cost Of Providing Coronavirus-Related Leave

IES Report: Veterans’ Education Benefits: A Profile of Military Students Who Received Federal Veterans’ Education Benefits in 2015–16

Legislative Movement in Congress Last Week:
S.3561 — A bill to require Federal agencies to permit employees to telework full-time during the public health emergency relating to COVID-19, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen. Van Hollen, Chris [D-MD] (Introduced 03/22/2020) Cosponsors: (2)
Committees: Senate – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Latest Action:  Senate – 03/22/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Press Release: Van Hollen, Lankford, Sinema Announce Bipartisan Legislation Requiring Federal Agencies To Maximize Telework For Employees

S.3556 — A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for deferral of loan repayment for graduates during the period of the coronavirus.
Sponsor: Sen. Romney, Mitt [R-UT] (Introduced 03/20/2020) Cosponsors: (0)
Committees: Senate – Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Action:  Senate – 03/20/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Press Release: Romney Introduces COVID-19 Graduate Relief Act

S.3503 — A bill to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to treat certain programs of education converted to distance learning by reason of emergencies and health-related situations in the same manner as programs of education pursued at educational institutions, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen. Moran, Jerry [R-KS] (Introduced 03/16/2020) Cosponsors: (30)
Latest Action:  House – 03/19/2020 Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.

S.3543 — A bill to amend the public service loan forgiveness program under the Higher Education Act of 1965 to waive the requirement that a borrower make a monthly payment during a month for which there is a qualifying emergency in the State in which the borrower is employed.
Sponsor: Sen. Tester, Jon [D-MT] (Introduced 03/19/2020) Cosponsors: (0)
Committees: Senate – Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Action:  Senate – 03/19/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Federal Education Training and Grant Opportunities, Notices:
ED Comment Request: Proposed Waiver and Extension of the Project Period for the Predominantly Black Institutions Competitive Grant Program. Comments due on or before April 22, 2020. 

ED Comment Request: Federal Direct Loan Program and Federal Family Education Loan Program Teacher Loan Forgiveness Forms. Comments due on or before May 18, 2020. 

The National College Transition Network (NCTN) at World Education is pleased to release the College Success for Single Mothers Application for community colleges. It is a three-year project (2020–22) funded by ECMC Foundation. The project will assist eight community colleges to identify the needs of single mother students on campus and develop a plan to expand key practices and services to enhance their success in college and careers. To achieve the project goals, NCTN is partnering with the Program Evaluation and Research Group at Endicott College, developers of the Family Friendly Campus Toolkit: Using Data to Improve Outcomes, and Achieving the Dream (ATD), a national leader in the community college reform movement. Selected colleges will form a cross-functional task force of decision makers, practitioners, and stakeholders to carry out the activities of the project and receive a $10,000 stipend. Application submissions are due 5:00 p.m. (ET), Friday, May 1, 2020. However, given the current uncertainties of our workplaces, campuses, and communities, we will monitor submissions and reconsider the deadline, if needed. Download the Information & Application Packet.