As things move quickly in Washington, DC, NACUBO is your constant advocate in action. Here are the issues we are tracking and advocating for this week.
Another Legal Challenge Successful in HEERF Student Eligibility Case
Judges in Massachusetts, California, and Washington have prohibited the Department of Education from implementing in their states the Interim Final Rule (IFR) on student eligibility to receive CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) emergency grants. These decisions primarily challenge the narrow student eligibility requirements mandated by ED that require students to be Title-IV eligible in order to receive emergency grants from their institutions if the grants are supplied by an institution’s HEERF allotment. These requirements exclude many vulnerable populations, including undocumented students and some student veterans.
ED Updates HEERF FAQ
The Department of Education has updated an FAQ on CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund aid regarding the use of HEERF Section 18004(a)(1) funds for student scholarships. The FAQ makes clear that while this aid generally cannot be used for student scholarships, it can be used for scholarships in instances where the aid is expressly tied to “costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus,” namely, supporting online education expenses. The FAQ also confirms that such scholarships could not count toward the requirement that an institution spend 50 percent of its Section 18004(a)(1) allotment on emergency grant aid to students.
On the Hill
Senate HELP Committee to Hold Another NIL Hearing
Following the recent unveiling of a College Athlete Bill of Rights by a group of Democratic senators, the Republican-led Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold another hearing on student-athlete compensation on September 15. The hearing likely will involve discussion of the Fairness in Collegiate Athletics Act, which was introduced by Senate Republicans and has been endorsed by the NCAA, and its significant differences from the much more expansive College Athlete Bill of Rights. This legislative activity comes as the NCAA is in the process of revising and redrafting its own regulations concerning student-athlete pay.
Further COVID-19 Relief Efforts Fail in Partisan Divide
Another attempt at advancing limited COVID-19 pandemic relief failed in the Senate on September 10. While Senate Republicans tried to push forward a $500 billion pandemic relief package focused primarily on smaller amounts of additional aid for education, the Paycheck Protection Program, the Postal Service, virus testing, and unemployment benefits, Democrats criticized it for falling short of their own $3 trillion dollar plan. Although Republicans currently hold a slim majority in the Senate, they lacked the 60 votes needed to advance the bill in the legislative process, with every Senate Democrat voting against the proposal. Plans proposed by both Democrats and Republicans fall short of the $46.6 billion in additional aid for colleges and universities that NACUBO and other higher education associations have requested, and do not address the $74 billion cost estimated to safely reopen postsecondary campuses this fall.
Get Out the Vote on Your Campus!
Colleges and universities provide immense value beyond the classroom to their students, communities, and society. Research shows that college graduates are more likely to vote in elections, and regular voting is a habit you can help your students, staff, and community develop now. To that end, NACUBO has compiled a state-by-state resource with voting information for the upcoming November 2020 elections that can be easily shared with your campus community. Each state specific one-pager details how, when, and where to vote in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Find your state's downloadable PDF on our Advocacy Tools and Resources page.
Don’t Miss the Next Legislative Lunchcast
Register now for NACUBO’s September 23 Legislative Lunchcast. This quarterly, 30-minute webinar is free for NACUBO members and will address the most pressing legislative, regulatory, and judicial issues affecting higher education. If you have a question that you would like to see addressed, please send it in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NACUBO On Your Side: September 1-8, 2020