Q. Does this legislation help college students?
Yes, this legislation includes several provisions designed to lessen the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on college students. If a student withdraws from college for reasons related to COVID-19, they will not be required to return their Pell grants or repay federal student loans from the semester. This semester will not count against lifetime limits on Pell grant or unsubsidized student loan semester eligibility either. Universities are authorized, under the bill, to provide emergency aid to students in need through the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants program for unexpected expenses and unmet needs resulting from COVID-19. If they have a work study job through the Federal Work Study Program, students are still eligible to receive payment – even if they cannot report in person. The bill also provides funds to universities to assist with the transition to online learning, to allow students to continue their education. For additional information on federal assistance for students, parents, and student loan borrowers please visit the Department of Education’s resource page.
Q. Is there support for students on the G.I. Bill?
Yes, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been authorized to provide full G.I. Bill benefits to veterans whose courses have been moved online as a result of COVID-19. These veterans will not have their monthly payments reduced, including their housing stipends. For additional information please visit the VA’s website here.
Q. Do I still have to pay my student loans?
Monthly federal student loan payments will be paused for six months through September 30, 2020 under this legislation. During this period borrowers will not face negative credit reporting or penalties for non-payment. Interest on federal student loans will be paused as well. The Department of Education will send reminders to borrowers in August before payments begin again. Please note that this does not apply to private student loans.
If an individual has already defaulted on their student loans, involuntary collections such as wage or tax refund garnishments are also suspended for six months.
Employers, under the bill, receive temporary tax incentives through the end of 2020 to make payments towards their employees’ student loan debt as well.
Q. Is there support for online learning?
The legislation establishes an Education Stabilization Fund to help ensure learning can continue despite challenges posed by COVID-19. The legislation provides resources for our K-12 schools, higher education system and workforce development system to support online learning options. You can access online learning resources provided by the U.S. Department of Education here. You can access online workforce development resources provided by the U.S. Department of Labor here.
Q. What about students with disabilities?
The legislation does not waive requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); however, it directs the Secretary of Education to provide a list of waivers to Congress that states may need to implement IDEA. In addition, the Department of Education has posted an FAQ page on IDEA as it pertains to COVID-19 here.