COVID-19 Policy Developments

The Issue

​​​​​​​​​​​​​The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is dramatically reshaping how colleges and universities are educating their students, protecting their campus communities, and conducting operations. Institutions across the country are working tirelessly on prevention and response efforts, while also trying to minimize the unprecedented disruption and profound financial and administrative upheaval.

Congress so far has passed three COVID-19 legislative packages designed to mitigate the impact the pandemic is having on workers, the economy, and public health. The most recent bill, the CARES Act, included some $14 billion for students and higher education institutions. However, this amount does not begin to cover their needs.

ACE is leading the higher education association effort to urge Congress and the federal government to agree on a comprehensive response that addresses the many challenges students and campuses are facing and alleviates the harms induced by COVID-19. You can trace this work through the documents and news stories found below.

ACE's Government Relations staff leading the COVID-19 response can be reached via email at gr@acenet.edu.

Our Work

Federal Emergency Relief

The higher education association community has been working with Congress and the Trump administration on supplemental spending bills, tax proposal priorities, student debt relief, and other assistance for students and institutions.

Expanding the Paycheck Protection Program to All Nonprofits
Expanding the Paycheck Protection Program to All Nonprofits
Letter to the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship urging support for the House HEROES Act provision that expands the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program to all nonprofits, regardless of size.
Expanding the Main Street Lending Program to Nonprofits
Expanding the Main Street Lending Program to Nonprofits
Letter to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs in support of the House HEROES Act provision requiring the Federal Reserve to expand the Main Street Lending Program to all nonprofits, including colleges and universities.
Higher Education Priorities for the Fifth Supplemental Spending Biil
Higher Education Priorities for the Fifth Supplemental Spending Biil
Request from ACE and 83 other higher education associations requesting $46.6 billion in support for students and institutions in the fifth COVID-19 spending bill.
The Need for Liability Protections for Colleges and Universities During the Pandemic
The Need for Liability Protections for Colleges and Universities During the Pandemic
Letter to House and Senate leadership requesting Congress to quickly enact temporary and targeted liability protections for higher education institutions, affiliated nonprofits, and healthcare providers and facilities.
Direct Lending for Nonprofits During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Direct Lending for Nonprofits During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell about setting up facilities that can provide direct lending to colleges, universities, and nonprofit medical institutions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Letter to the House on the HEROES Act
Letter to the House on the HEROES Act
Letter to House leadership in support of the Health, Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act.
Summary of the HEROES Act
Summary of the HEROES Act
Summary of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, the House bill that would be the fifth COVID-19 emergency funding measure.
Letter to Congress Requesting CARES Act Technical Corrections
Letter to Congress Requesting CARES Act Technical Corrections
Letter to House Committee on Education and Labor and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions containing requests for clarifications and technical corrections to the CARES Act.
Letter Endorsing the American Opportunity Student Tax Relief Act
Letter Endorsing the American Opportunity Student Tax Relief Act
Letter signed by ACE and 15 other associations to Representative Lloyd Doggett in support of the American Opportunity Student Tax Relief Act of 2020.
Letter on the Main Street Lending Program
Letter on the Main Street Lending Program
Letter to the leaders of the House Committee on Financial Services and Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs requesting changes to the CARES Act Main Street Lending program to help accommodate higher education institutions.
Letter on the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program
Letter on the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program
Letter to the House and Senate Small Business Committees requesting changes to the Paycheck Protection Program and COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Program to help higher education institutions more easily apply for support.
Letter to Congress on the Taxability of Emergency Student Financial Aid Grants
Letter to Congress on the Taxability of Emergency Student Financial Aid Grants
Letter to House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees requesting that the emergency student financial aid grants authorized by the CARES Act are not subject to taxation.
Letter to House Leadership on Borrower Relief During the Pandemic
Letter to House Leadership on Borrower Relief During the Pandemic
Letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy requesting relief for both the 13.7 million students borrowing to finance their college educations and the 44 million already in repayment.
Letter to Senate Leadership on Borrower Relief During the Pandemic
Letter to Senate Leadership on Borrower Relief During the Pandemic
Letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer requesting relief for both the 13.7 million students borrowing to finance their college educations and the 44 million already in repayment.
Comments on the Main Street Lending Program
Comments on the Main Street Lending Program
Comments to the Federal Reserve Chairman requesting updated guidance on the Main Street Lending Program to clarify that nonprofit private and public institutions are included and to exempt student workers from the employee threshhold.
Letter to Treasury and IRS on CARES Emergency Grant Aid
Letter to Treasury and IRS on CARES Emergency Grant Aid
Letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig on the taxibility of emergency grant aid for college and university students in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stimulus.
Memo on the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund
Memo on the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund
From Hogan Lovells, this memo describes pertinent provisions of the $14 billion Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stability (CARES) Act.
Letter to Congress on Higher Education Tax Priorities During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Letter to Congress on Higher Education Tax Priorities During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Letter to the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees outlining the higher education tax proposals needed to support students and institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Letter to House Leadership Requesting Additional Support During the Pandemic
Letter to House Leadership Requesting Additional Support During the Pandemic
Letter to House leadership requesting additional assistance for the higher education community during the COVID-19 pandemic as Congress prepares the next stimulus bill.
Letter to Senate Leadership Requesting Additional Support During the Pandemic
Letter to Senate Leadership Requesting Additional Support During the Pandemic
Letter to Senate leadership requesting additional assistance for the higher education community during the COVID-19 pandemic as Congress prepares the next stimulus bill.
Summary of the Higher Education Provisions in the CARES Act
Summary of the Higher Education Provisions in the CARES Act
Summary of the higher education provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which provides over $2 trillion in emergency relief to address the economic downturn resulting from the pandemic.
Letter to Secretary DeVos on Distributing Funds in the CARES Act
Letter to Secretary DeVos on Distributing Funds in the CARES Act
Letter to Secretary Betsy DeVos on the need to distribute the higher education emergency relief funds included in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act as soon as possible.
Letter on CARES Act Loan Provisions
Letter on CARES Act Loan Provisions
Letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Administrator Jovita Carranza on Paycheck Protection Program and COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans in the CARES Act economic stimulus bill.
Summary of the CARES Act Loan Programs Available to Colleges and Universities
Summary of the CARES Act Loan Programs Available to Colleges and Universities
Summary of the programs of interest to higher education institutions in the CARES Act, inlcudint the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, and Main Street Loans.
Summary of the Higher Education Provisions in the CARES Act
Summary of the Higher Education Provisions in the CARES Act
Summary of the higher education provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which provides over $2 trillion in emergency relief to address the economic downturn resulting from the pandemic.
ACE President Ted Mitchell on Senate Stimulus Bill’s Impact on Students and Institutions
ACE President Ted Mitchell on Senate Stimulus Bill’s Impact on Students and Institutions
While this legislation is an improvement from where the Senate started, the amount of money it provides to students and higher education institutions remains woefully inadequate.
Letter in Support of Charitable Giving Amendment to the CARES Act
Letter in Support of Charitable Giving Amendment to the CARES Act
Letter to Sen. James Lankford in support of his amendment to the in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that would create an above-the-line deduction for charitable giving for taxpayers not itemizing their deductions
Letter to House on Higher Education Priorities in Supplemental Spending Bill
Letter to House on Higher Education Priorities in Supplemental Spending Bill
Letter to Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy outlining how the federal government can assist students, educators, and institutions in recovering from the impact of COVID-19.
Letter to Senate on Higher Education Priorities in Supplemental Spending Bill
Letter to Senate on Higher Education Priorities in Supplemental Spending Bill
Letter to Sens. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer outlining how the federal government can assist students, educators, and institutions in recovering from the impact of COVID-19.
Letter Urging Student Loan Repayment Relief During COVID-19 Crisis
Letter Urging Student Loan Repayment Relief During COVID-19 Crisis
Letter to Congress from ACE, the NASFAA, and TICAS urging Congress to provide immediate repayment relief to federal student loan borrowers amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Memo to Congress: Supporting Higher Education During the Pandemic
Memo to Congress: Supporting Higher Education During the Pandemic
Recommendations from the higher education community for what to include in the coronavirus emergency stimulus bill Congress is drafting to support college students and institutions.

Support for Research

Research universities, medical schools, and teaching hospitals are at the forefront of our nation’s fight against COVID-19, and it is vital to safeguard the research workforce and capabilities.

Supporting Research During the Pandemic
Supporting Research During the Pandemic
Letter to Senate leadership and the Appropriations Committee on requesting $26 billion in additional support for research during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Letter to Congressional Leadership on Support for Research During the Pandemic
Letter to Congressional Leadership on Support for Research During the Pandemic
Letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer requesting relief for the university research workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Letter to Congress in Support of Research During COVID-19 Pandemic
Letter to Congress in Support of Research During COVID-19 Pandemic
Letter from ACE, AAU, APLU, and AAMC outlining a four-point strategy to help U.S. universities continue leading in the battle against COVID-19 and ensure that research in other areas can continue.

​Veterans

Student veterans have required additional consideration given the benefits they receive under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Letter to Senate Veterans Committee on Veteran Coronavirus Response Act
Letter to Senate Veterans Committee on Veteran Coronavirus Response Act
Letter sent to the leadership of the Senate Committee on Veterans in support of the Student Veterans Coronavirus Response Act of 2020.
Letter in Support of Ensuring GI Bill Benefits for Online Programs During COVID-19 Pandemic
Letter in Support of Ensuring GI Bill Benefits for Online Programs During COVID-19 Pandemic
Letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy asking the House to approve a bill ensuring veterans continue to receive their GI bill benefits when campuses move courses online due to COVID-19.
Letter to Senate on Ensuring GI Bill Benefits Are Not Interrupted During Coronavirus Pandemic
Letter to Senate on Ensuring GI Bill Benefits Are Not Interrupted During Coronavirus Pandemic
Letter to Sens. Jerry Moran and Jon Tester of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in support of legislation to ensure that veterans continue to receive their GI bill benefits if their institution moves courses online due to the coronavirus.
Letter to House on Ensuring GI Bill Benefits Are Not Interrupted During Coronavirus Pandemic
Letter to House on Ensuring GI Bill Benefits Are Not Interrupted During Coronavirus Pandemic
Letter to Rep. Phil Roe in strong support of H.R. 6194, legislation to ensure that veterans continue to receive their GI bill benefits if their institution moves courses online due to the coronavirus.

​Regulations

Campuses need to streamline operations now and in the coming months to better serve their students. Regulatory relief plays a prominent role.

Letter on Telemedicine Licensing Reciprocity
Letter on Telemedicine Licensing Reciprocity
Letter to the nation's governors urging them to provide reciprocity in licensing health care and mental health care professionals to enable them to practice across state lines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Letter Requesting a Delay on Title IX and Section 117 Rules
Letter Requesting a Delay on Title IX and Section 117 Rules
Letter to Secretary Betsy DeVos requesting the department delay further action on the final Title IX rule and Section 117 foreign gifts and contracts information collection request until after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.
Letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Waiving Financial Responsibility Standards
Letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Waiving Financial Responsibility Standards
Letter to Secretary Betsy DeVos requesting the Department of Education use its authority under Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act to temporarily waive financial responsibility standards.

​International Students

Responding to the flow of students to and from China, followed by other highly impacted countries, was the first line of defense in January 2020.

Letter to the White House on Optional Practical Training
Letter to the White House on Optional Practical Training
Letter to White House Deputy Chief of Staff Chris Liddell on the review of non-immigrant programs, including Optional Practical Training, as part of the administration's recent order on immigration.
Letter on President Trump's Immigration Executive Order
Letter on President Trump's Immigration Executive Order
Letter to the secretaries of State, Homeland Security, and Labor about President Trump's recent executive order on immigration, specifically on the section that calls for an examination of and recommendations regarding non-immigrant programs.
Request to State Department for Guidance for International Students During the Pandemic
Request to State Department for Guidance for International Students During the Pandemic
Letter to Secretary Mike Pompeo seeking further guidance from the Department of State guidance for international students and scholars during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Letter Requesting Additional Guidance on Coronavirus for International Students
Letter Requesting Additional Guidance on Coronavirus for International Students
Letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf requesting additional guidance for international students and scholars on U.S. campuses in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Latest News
ACE, Other Associations Call for Creation of New Federal Lending Facility for Nonprofits
ACE, Other Associations Call for Creation of New Federal Lending Facility for Nonprofits
ACE and 34 other associations are supporting the creation of a new lending facility for nonprofits through the Main Street Lending Program at the Federal Reserve.
House Approves 5th Emergency COVID-19 Spending Bill With $100 Billion for Education
House Approves 5th Emergency COVID-19 Spending Bill With $100 Billion for Education
House lawmakers approved a new emergency supplemental spending measure to address the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emergency Student Aid Grants Will Not Be Taxed; House Bill Would Give Additional Relief to Students and Families
Emergency Student Aid Grants Will Not Be Taxed; House Bill Would Give Additional Relief to Students and Families
The IRS announced last week that CARES Act emergency student financial aid grants will not be taxable.
ACE, Other Groups Highlight Importance of International Students as Agencies Respond to Trump’s Immigration Order
ACE, Other Groups Highlight Importance of International Students as Agencies Respond to Trump’s Immigration Order
ACE and 62 other associations have offered to assist the departments of Labor, Homeland Security, and State in the review of non-immigrant programs mandated by President Trump's recent executive order on immigration.
Consider the Needs of Small and Mid-Sized Colleges in Emergency Loan Programs, Higher Education Groups Ask
Consider the Needs of Small and Mid-Sized Colleges in Emergency Loan Programs, Higher Education Groups Ask
President Donald Trump signed the latest coronavirus relief bill into law Friday, a $484 billion package that would revive the depleted Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for distressed small businesses and provide much-needed funds for hospitals.
ACE, Higher Education Groups Ask Congress to Ensure Emergency Student Aid Is Not Taxed
ACE, Higher Education Groups Ask Congress to Ensure Emergency Student Aid Is Not Taxed
ACE and 41 other higher education groups are calling on Congress to ensure that emergency student financial aid grants authorized by the CARES Act are not taxed.
ACE, Higher Education Associations Advocate for Relief for Student Loan Borrowers
ACE, Higher Education Associations Advocate for Relief for Student Loan Borrowers
ACE and 31 other higher education associations are asking Congress to provide relief to the 13.7 million students borrowing to finance their college education and to the 44 million borrowers already in repayment.
Higher Education Associations Craft Statement of Principles on Acceptance of Credit During Current Emergency
Higher Education Associations Craft Statement of Principles on Acceptance of Credit During Current Emergency
ACE and five other higher education associations today released a statement of principles on the acceptance of credit during the COVID-19 emergency.
Higher Education Community Requests $46.6 Billion for Students and Institutions in Fourth Supplemental Package, Proposes Tax Changes
Higher Education Community Requests $46.6 Billion for Students and Institutions in Fourth Supplemental Package, Proposes Tax Changes
ACE and other higher education organizations are requesting that Congress include $46.6 billion in emergency aid for students and institutions in the next COVID-19 supplemental package to at least partially mitigate the damage done by this pandemic.
Education Department Emergency Aid Coming to Students Next Week, Institutional Assistance Coming Soon
Education Department Emergency Aid Coming to Students Next Week, Institutional Assistance Coming Soon
The Department of Education (ED) announced the first phase of distributing the roughly $14 billion for higher education institutions and students included in the CARES Act, the stimulus bill signed into law March 27.
ACE, Other Organizations Urge Governors to Cooperate on Health Care Licensing Reciprocity During COVID-19 Pandemic
ACE, Other Organizations Urge Governors to Cooperate on Health Care Licensing Reciprocity During COVID-19 Pandemic
ACE and more than 60 other organizations are asking governors to take immediate action to ensure their states provide reciprocity in licensing of health care and mental health care professionals.
ACE, Other Associations Ask for Swift Distribution of Higher Education Stimulus Funds
ACE, Other Associations Ask for Swift Distribution of Higher Education Stimulus Funds
ED should move quickly to distribute the money to higher education institutions and students contained in the $2 trillion CARES Act, urge ACE and 40 other associations.
Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Allocates $14 Billion to Higher Education
Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Allocates $14 Billion to Higher Education
ACE President Ted Mitchell called the higher education provisions in the plan, which total approximately $14 billion, “woefully inadequate.”
Senate Likely to Vote on Stimulus Package Later Today; Support for Students and Institutions Still Being Negotiated
Senate Likely to Vote on Stimulus Package Later Today; Support for Students and Institutions Still Being Negotiated
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said last night that they were nearing a deal on a $2 trillion economic aid package to help Americans, U.S. businesses, and specific groups survive the coronavirus pandemic.
President Signs Legislation Protecting Veterans GI Bill Benefits During Coronavirus Crisis
President Signs Legislation Protecting Veterans GI Bill Benefits During Coronavirus Crisis
Veterans will continue to receive their GI bill benefits in situations where campuses are forced to move courses online due to COVID-19.
ACE, Other Higher Ed Groups Ask Congress to Support Students and Institutions in Wake of COVID-19 Pandemic
ACE, Other Higher Ed Groups Ask Congress to Support Students and Institutions in Wake of COVID-19 Pandemic
It is vital for higher education leaders to contact their members of Congress to request assistance.
House, Senate Introduce Financial Aid Legislation for Coronavirus Outbreak
House, Senate Introduce Financial Aid Legislation for Coronavirus Outbreak
Legislation introduced in both the House and Senate last week would provide more than $3 billion in COVID-19 support funding for higher education.
 House Passes Bill to Automatically Forgive Student Loans for Disabled Veterans
House Passes Bill to Automatically Forgive Student Loans for Disabled Veterans
Permanently disabled veterans would automatically have their student loan debts canceled under a bill passed by the House on March 10.
ACE, Higher Education Groups Comment on New Foreign Gift and Reporting Information Request
ACE, Higher Education Groups Comment on New Foreign Gift and Reporting Information Request
The Department of Education should make changes to the latest version of its proposed expansion of foreign gift and contract reporting requirements, ACE said in comments submitted March 11.
Education Department Issues Coronavirus Guidelines as Campuses Continue to Prepare and Respond
Education Department Issues Coronavirus Guidelines as Campuses Continue to Prepare and Respond
The Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid has released guidance to help colleges and universities comply with student financial aid policies for students whose activities are impacted by the new coronavirus.
CDC Issues Coronavirus Guidance for Foreign Programs and Domestic Campuses
CDC Issues Coronavirus Guidance for Foreign Programs and Domestic Campuses
In light of the coronavirus outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control has recommended that colleges and universities “consider" postponing or canceling foreign exchange programs and asking students on study abroad programs to return to the United States.
Our Staff
 
 

 Untitled ‭[3]‬

Collaboration and Information-Sharing Among Colleges and Associations in the Coronavirus Era: Antitrust Awareness

​This issue brief offers a primer about whether, when, and how antitrust considerations should factor into information-sharing and other collaborative activities during the coming months.

Download (667 KB PDF)

 Untitled ‭[2]‬

Higher Education Associations Craft Statement of Principles on Acceptance of Credit During Current Emergency

​ACE and five other higher education associations today released a statement of principles on the acceptance of credit during the COVID-19 emergency.

Read More (256 KB PDF)

 Untitled ‭[1]‬

Coronavirus Higher Education Relief Fund: Simulated Distribution of Funds Under the CARES Act

​This sortable, searchable database is a simulation of how the U.S. Department of Education might distribute these emergency funds.

Learn More

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