NAICU Washington Update - April 17, 2020

April 17, 2020

While there have been many developments related to the implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, including the possibility that the Department of Education will release FAQs as early as today that would precede the release of the student emergency grants, the eyes of many are also looking ahead to the next tranche of federal relief to help the country through this national emergency.  We know that Members of Congress are working remotely and beginning to formalize specifics on the next round of funding, details of which could start emerging soon.  

Late last week, NAICU joined with dozens of higher education associations in signing joint letters to the House and Senate leadership requesting $46.6 billion be included in next supplemental legislation addressing the financial impacts of COVID-19.  The requested funds would be divided equally between students and institutions.

It will be important to contact your federal representatives to provide information on what your campus and students are going through, stories about how your campus may be partnering with community associations, your current plans for the fall, updates on how you plan to use the funding provided in the CARES Act, and what else is needed to help get through the crisis.  NAICU will provide additional information and recommendations to members very soon.

Department of Education to Release FAQs on CARES Act Funding: NAICU has learned that the U.S. Department of Education is developing a set of Frequently Asked Questions that will accompany the release of the CARES Act funding for student emergency grants to institutions. This additional guidance could be released any time.  Since the Department’s FAQ’s may influence institutional plans for distributing the student funds provided by the CARES Act, it would be beneficial to review this additional information before any approach is finalized. 

$3B in Emergency Education Block Grants for Governors Available: On April 14, U. S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wrote all 50 governors announcing that state block grant funds will be made available under the CARES Act. The formula for the Governors’ Emergency Education Relief Funds is based on states’ student-age population and poverty levels. (State allocations for the GEERF) The emergency block grants are intended to be flexible for governors to address the hardest hit education sectors in the state, whether early childhood, elementary and secondary, or postsecondary.  While not required, the Department encourages states to use the funds to ensure that all students continue to learn through some form of remote learning.  A website has also been developed for this fund that includes applications and instructions for applying for the fund has been created. 

Higher Ed Associations Seek Tax Relief on Emergency Grant Aid: Led by the National Association of College and University Business Officers, NAICU co-signed, with several other higher education associations, a joint letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig asking that the “emergency grant aid provided to students in the CARES Act should be treated as what it is: a nontaxable qualified disaster relief payment made by Congress to students in response to an ongoing nationwide disaster.”

Update on Sect. 117 Related to Foreign Gifts and Contracts: The Office of Management and Budget has approved the Department of Education’s request to collect information on foreign gifts and contracts under section 117 of the Higher Education Act. Despite concerns raised by the higher education community regarding the disclosure of individual donor names and the scope of the reporting requirements, the Department did not make any changes to its most recent information collection request. Institutions are required to submit initial disclosures by July 31, 2020. The Department also announced that it intends to propose a regulation through the notice and comment rulemaking process regarding a requirement to produce true copies of gift and contract agreements. 

Higher Ed Community Sends Joint Letter in Support of Veterans’ Education Benefits: NAICU also joined its higher education association colleagues in writing a joint letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs supporting the Student Veterans Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 that seeks to protect veterans’ education benefits during the COVID-19 crisis.

IPEDS Changes to the 2019-2020 Data Collection: IPEDS recently announced several changes to the 2019-2020 data collection due to COVID-19, including:
  • Institutions are allowed an additional 2 weeks to report during the spring collection; and
  • Institutions that are unable to report this spring will be able to report using the Prior Year Revision system in the fall.
Because of this, data for Spring 2020, and Fall 2021, will see delays.

NAICU Webinars: Next week NAICU will be offering three webinars that will address the most frequently asked questions we continue to receive regarding the implementation of the CARES Act.  Additionally, should the Department of Education release its set of FAQs, NAICU will provide analysis and guidance on those details as well.  The webinars for NAICU members are scheduled for April 21 (2:30-3:30 EDT), April 22 (4:30-5:30 EDT), and April 23 (4:00-5:00 EDT).  Registration and other details will be sent to NAICU members in a separate email invitation.   

NAICU COVID-19 Resource Pages: NAICU continues to maintain and update on a daily basis its dedicated webpage that provides current information, guidance, and news coverage on the coronavirus.  NAICU is also updating its Frequently Asked Questions link as more information becomes available. 

CNN Covers Impact of COVID-19 on Colleges and Universities: NAICU President Barbara Mistick and Howard University President Wayne Frederick were featured in a CNN segment yesterday on how the coronavirus is redefining the college experience.  

Editor’s Note: Changes Coming to Washington Update: Beginning in May, Washington Update will become a member’s only newsletter.  NAICU members will continue to receive the newsletter automatically and no action is required.  For readers who are not affiliated with a NAICU member institution or organization, we thank you for your readership through the years.  If your institution is interested in a NAICU membership, contact Deborah Sykes Reilly at

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