Coronavirus News Update for Students, Families, Colleges

Coronavirus News Update for Students, Families, Colleges
Susan Dutca-Lovell

From student loans to college athletics, is keeping you updated on all of the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on high school and higher education. If you're tired of reading about COVID-19, take a break by checking out your latest scholarship matches and earning money for college here.


Imagine you are in a Zoom meeting with your classmates, peers, and professor when someone randomly intrudes - spewing racist, misogynistic or vulgar content. Such was the unfortunate case during an Arizona State University online Zoom meeting, as well as other schools conducting online learning amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

This new technological threat - coined "Zoombombing" - is occurring during online meetings and course-hosting platforms, and the 'bombs' typically take "the form of racist vitriol or pornographic content shared with the group by an unwelcome user," according to Inside Higher Ed. As a result, professors are researching methods to tightly control their Zoom meetings.

Zoom also posted a blog post detailing ways in which to keep out would-be crashers, and the FBI weighed in, recommending the following in hopes of preventing "Zoombombing":

  • Don't make meetings public. Zoom allows users to make meetings private by requiring a meeting password or using a waiting room feature to control who's admitted.
  • Don't share a link to the meeting on a public social media post. Send the link to participants directly.
  • Change the screen-sharing option in Zoom to "host only."
  • Ask people to use the latest updated version of Zoom.
  • Ensure your organization's telework policy addresses requirements for information security.

CARES Act Emergency Funding for Institutions

Of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package emergency funding, nearly $14 billion of it will be given to higher education. The American Council on Education created a simulation to show an estimate of where the money will go for general planning.

Roughly $12.5 billion of the emergency funding will go to institutions based on a breakdown of 75 percent going toward the full-time enrollment equivalent of Pell Grant recipients and 25 percent for the full-time equivalent enrollment of students who don't receive Pell Grants. Find the breakdown for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act here.

Student Loan Tax Breaks

Congress is set to pass a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill which includes a one-time tax break this year for annual employer contributions of up to $5,250 toward their employees' student loan debt. As a result, companies have started offering student loan payments as a benefit for both current employees and new hires.

NCAA Division I Athletics

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Division I athletes on spring teams are allowed to compete for an additional season and teams can provide scholarships for more athletes than rules typically allow, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association. It will be up to institutions to decide whether to provide the financial aid, and how much. College senior athletes who return for the upcoming season are not guaranteed to retain the same scholarship they were awarded during this current season.

Higher education institutions will be able to extend the eligibility of all their spring athletes - not just college seniors - by one year. Baseball roster limits will also be increased. Only spring college athletes will be entitled to these extensions since their season were cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Medical Students Graduating Early

In an effort to more quickly combat the COVID-19 pandemic, some medical schools will allow its students to graduate early so they can get to work as soon as possible. There will be guidelines for medical schools interested in participating in this initiative, which will include appropriate supervision since "the M.D. degree gives them the ability to have supervised practice, not independent practice." Furthermore, early medical school graduates will need a special license since they cannot have an independent license.

Student Loan Wage Garnishing

Ascendium has stopped garnishing wages, tax refunds or Social Security benefits to collect overdue student loan payments, and will not try to involuntarily collect payments for at least 60 days after March 26, according to Inside Higher Ed. Ascendium, the nation's largest student loan guarantor, also stopped contacting borrowers unless they are trying to resolve their debt and is refunding any money collected through messages it sent since March 13. The stimulus package recently passed by Congress also ordered a stop to involuntary collections.

Check back regularly on our News section to keep up to date on the latest information on the coronavirus and higher education.

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