NAICU Washington Update

NAICU Washington Update - April 3, 2020

April 03, 2020

Special COVID-19 Edition of Washington Update. 

There was considerable activity this week in terms of getting clarification and guidance on many of the higher education provisions contained in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law last Friday.  

This week, for example, NAICU signed onto a letter with the American Council on Education to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos asking her to release funds as quickly as possible and “to provide campuses with as much flexibility as possible for distributing these funds on campus, both for emergency grants to students and to help cover institutional refunds, expenses, and other lost revenues.”

NAICU has created a set of Frequently Asked Questions to help answer as many questions as we can concerning the provisions and implementation of the CARES Act – and to highlight those questions that we simply do not have answers to at this time.

NAICU’s staff will continue to be in close consultation with policy makers and staff who are working on guidance and regulations.  As updates happen, we will continue to keep our membership informed of any issues that will impact your campus and students.

In the meantime, the higher education community is already at work on the next round of legislation to assist the nation in its response to the global pandemic. As the legislative process moves forward, NAICU will once again reach out to its membership seeking assistance in making the case for continued support for our students and institutions.

SBA Paycheck Protection Program: NAICU and the American Council on Education sent a joint letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Carranza asking for urgent clarification on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and whether student workers will count toward the 500-employee cap for colleges to participate.  Specifically, the letter cited the “immediate need for flexibility around how to count student workers.” At this point, the 500-employee limit for eligibility in the PPP still stands.  The letter requests that all part-time student workers, including those whose jobs are part of their financial aid packages, be removed from the count toward the 500-employee cap.  

Also cited in the letter are several examples of federal precedence for not including student workers in employee counting, including IPEDS, IRS and Treasury, as well as Department of Labor definitions.  

In addition, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), a member of the Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus, is helping on the Congressional front by circulating a similar letter in the House of Representatives to gather signatures that will also go to Treasury and SBA showing Congressional support.  As of this writing, Rep. Banks has secured 29 co-signers in less than 24 hours.  

NC-SARA Update: In response to inquiries from private colleges, NC-SARA was held a meeting of the Executive Committee of its Board this week to discuss the challenges with the current Financial Responsibility Standards in light of the continuing economic downturn. We are pleased this conversation is taking place and that NC-SARA is not waiting until it next full board meeting in May to begin to discuss the matter.

Financial Responsibility Standards: Inside Higher Ed published a story earlier this week covering the push by higher education groups to seek a temporary waiver of the financial responsibility standards.  The story referenced the letter NAICU President Barbara Mistick co-signed with ACE President Ted Mitchell to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.  The story also quoted Sarah Flanagan, NAICU’s vice president of government relations and policy development: The formula favors cash, and the impact of the financial downturn will hit hard during the last quarter of this year, said Sarah Flanagan, NAICU’s vice president for government relations. To cope with skewed composite scores, she said many colleges will be forced to resort to dramatic slashing of employee-intensive budgets.

Proposed Rules on Distance Learning and Innovation Published: In non-COVID-19 news, the Department of Education has published proposed rules that are intended to facilitate distance learning and educational innovation. Public comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) are due on May 4, 2020, and can be submitted electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. (See full story)

NAICU COVID-19 Resource Page: NAICU continues to maintain and update on a daily basis its dedicated webpage that provides current information, guidance, and news coverage on the coronavirus. 

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