NAICU Washington Update - April 24, 2020

April 24, 2020

Earlier this week, the Department of Education announced the availability of the second tranche of funding under the CARES Act for higher education, the portion set aside for institutions.  The Department’s announcement also sought to answer additional questions it has received on both the student and institutional portions of the funding.  This follows the announcement on April 9 of the process for distributing the emergency grants to students included in the CARES Act.

Campuses must apply separately for the student grants and institutional grants, but colleges must apply for the student funds first. It is NAICU’s assumption that the funds will continue to be distributed separately.  Earlier this month, the Department provided colleges and universities their overall institutional allocations.

As a reminder, the funds provided to institutions under the CARES Act have been fully-funded by Congress. Institutions are entitled to their federal funds and there is no risk of those funds running out or expiring before colleges and universities have a chance to complete their application.

NAICU held a series of three webinars this week to answer as many questions as possible about the implementation of the CARES Act.  The presentation slides and webinar recordings can be found on NAICU’s dedicated coronavirus webpage.  The Department has also created a series of FAQs for both the student emergency grant funds and the institutional portion

Paycheck Protection Program: This week Congress approved an additional infusion of $310 billion into the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – a lending program for businesses and nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees that is part of the CARES Act.  The total funding in this newest coronavirus relief package, titled the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, comes to $484 billion. In addition to replenishing the PPP, it provides $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion to establish a national testing program. 

While, NAICU sent a joint letter this week to the Small Business Committees in the U.S. House and Senate asking for students to not be considered in the count of employees in the PPP, the issue was not addressed in the new bill because of concerns about expanding eligibility for the funds at a time when thousands of qualifying businesses had been unable to get money when the original PPP funds ran out in 14 days.  Earlier this month, NAICU and the American Council on Education sent a joint letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Small Business Administration Administrator Carranza asking for urgent clarification on the PPP loans and whether student workers will count toward the 500-employee cap for colleges to participate.  

Clarity Sought on Main Street Lending Program Eligibility: NAICU sent a joint letter to the Financial Services and Banking Committees in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate asking for clarification that nonprofits will be eligible to participate in the Main Street Lending program for employers with less than 10,000 employees. The letter also seeks to have student workers excluded from the threshold for employer eligibility for the program. The U.S. Treasury Department has yet to announce if the mid-size lending program authorized in the CARES Act will be established, or if it will let the Main Street Lending program be the only vehicle to serve that group of employers.

President Issues Executive Order on Immigration: President Trump signed an executive order on April 22 limiting immigration to the U.S. for the next 60 days due to the coronavirus pandemic.  The move is intended to put U.S. citizens back to work first, as the economy starts to reopen.  The order suspends new immigrant visas for 60 days, and applies to people who are currently outside the U.S. seeking entry and do not currently have a valid visa.  The executive order does not apply to those who are already lawful permanent residents or healthcare professionals seeking an immigrant visa to help fight the pandemic in the U.S.  Spouses and children under 21 of U.S. citizens, and U.S. military personnel are also exempt from the ban.

SCOTUS Grants Motion in DACA Case: The Supreme Court has granted a motion to allow a supplemental brief filed by DACA recipient plaintiffs who argue that terminating the DACA policy during a national emergency would be “catastrophic.”  The motion urges the court to consider “the significant and adverse consequences” of terminating DACA for healthcare and other essential workers, who make up a large number of those battling the coronavirus. It is unclear when the Supreme Court will rule.

Taxability of Student Emergency Grants: One of the more troublesome aspects of the CARES Act Emergency Grants for students is that Congress failed to include the necessary legislative language to ensure the grants were not taxable to students.  This move came despite a widespread understanding that Congress had intended the grants to be tax-free. NAICU joined over three dozen other higher education associations in sending a joint letter to the relevant tax committees in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate asking to make the grants tax free in the next COVID-19 relief bill.  In the meantime, NAICU recommends that when institutions issue emergency grants to students, they indicate that the grants may be taxable.

Court Approves Settlement Between DOJ and NACAC: A federal court has approved a settlement between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) to resolve a two-year antitrust investigation of the group’s code of ethics. In December, NACAC agreed to delete certain provisions from its code of ethics in response to DOJ allegations that the provisions constituted an unlawful restriction on competition in violation of federal antitrust laws. The settlement is expected to be in effect for seven years.

Principles on Managing and Evaluating Credit: In collaboration with other higher education associations, NAICU has developed and adopted a Statement of Principles on Acceptance of Credit to guide institutions as they determine how to manage and evaluate academic credit and assess student transcripts that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other principles, the statement recommends that institutional policies should: 
  • Recognize the extraordinary burden placed on students during this time;
  • Be as holistic as possible, taking into account the range of situational and behavioral circumstances in which our students find themselves;
  • Wherever practicable, provide flexibility in the timely reporting of grades and other markers of achievement; and
  • Aim for complete transparency.
In the News: In a recent article in the Washington Post, NAICU President Barbara Mistick stressed that colleges and universities want to be “good stewards” of the CARES Act funds and intend to move as quickly and deliberatively as possible to get the resources into the hands of students.  Mistick also spoke with University Business about the outlook for colleges and universities reopening in the fall

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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