Coronavirus Stimulus Package: Higher Ed Edition

Coronavirus Stimulus Package: Higher Ed Edition
Susan Dutca-Lovell

Negotiations and proposals for an economic stimulus package are being mulled over by lawmakers, ones that will ultimately affect school and education funding. Currently, student-loan borrowers are able enter forbearance on their student loans for 60 days without accruing interest. The U.S. Department of Education will also suspend student loan payments by borrowers who are over 31 days delinquent. The White House has already announced that it will waive the interest on federal student loan payments. Here are some of the recent developments in proposed relief for students, colleges and universities as part of the COVID-19 stimulus plan:

  • Granting higher education institutions zero-interest loans so that they can remain solvent during this time and resume operations in the future
  • Paying up to $1,500 per student forced off-campus
  • Federal assistance for institutions who were forced to close their doors and move to online learning
  • Granting nearly $50 billion in federal assistance to help colleges and students stay afloat
  • Providing $7.8 billion in grants to help schools transition to online learning
  • Temporarily suspending eligibility requirements for the disbursement of Title IV college student aid
  • Emergency aid for students struggling to pay for food, housing, transportation, and childcare
  • Granting Title IV requirement flexibility for students who are suffering academically
  • Not allowing for the use of Pell Grants during semesters affected by the coronavirus to count toward students' lifetime limits

Experts who support the suspension of student-loan payments claim that it could be an effective and reasonable approach - that the pause "could allow borrowers to avail themselves of the existing income-driven repayment option." Meanwhile, some skeptics believe that by "simply canceling $10,000 in student-loan debt" it "would cost the government far more, and would wipe away loan debt that many borrowers would be perfectly capable of repaying after the crisis ends." In your opinion as a student, parent, or educator, what do you think lawmakers should do to bring the most relief and to better assist you, your family, or your students? Share your thoughts with us below.

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