DearColleague.us

Letter

Jimmy Panetta

From the office of:

Jimmy Panetta

Sending Office: Honorable Jimmy Panetta
Sent By:
Mark.Dennin@mail.house.gov

Support Higher Education and Students

Sign Letter to Sec. DeVos Requesting Clarity on CARES Act Higher Ed Funding

Sign on by 5pm ET on 4/8

Dear Colleague,

Please join us in sending the below letter to Sec. DeVos requesting clarity on and timely disbursement of higher education funding in the CARES Act.

This letter requests that Ed provide regulatory flexibility to higher education institutions, clarity on the formula used for disbursing funds, and the ability to use the funds for students to reimburse schools for relief to students provided by institutions,
as intended by the CARES Act.

Specifically, the letter requests clarity on whether Ed will:

  • Limit which students are eligible to receive emergency grants, which could harm certain students,
  • Permit the use of emergency grants to reduce students’ loan indebtedness, which could be helpful or necessary for some students,
  • Limit direct support to undergraduate students, or also permit graduate students who are deserving and in need to receive relief,
  • Limit relief to students who are Title IV eligible, which would unfairly exclude students based on immigration status, and
  • Permit funding to be used until exhausted, or require funds to be expended by a certain date.

Our schools are seeking to serve our students as best they can, but are facing financial strain as they weather COVID-19.  The Ed Department should provide this clarity and financial assistance as soon as possible.

Please contact Mark Dennin in Congressman Panetta’s office at mark.dennin@mail.house.gov or Robbie Farewell in Congressman Mike Levin’s office at robbie.farewell@mail.house.gov to sign on or for any questions.

Sincerely,

Jimmy Panetta                                                 Mike Levin

Member of Congress                                       Member of Congress

Letter Text:

Dear Secretary DeVos:

As the country continues to grapple with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, we write to encourage your swift, thoughtful, and transparent implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. In particular, we ask for
your support in ensuring that our nation’s higher education institutions—many of which are actively conducting the research, education, and health care missions necessary to respond to this pandemic—receive the support they require to continue serving in this
capacity from the U.S. Department of Education (Department) as soon as possible.

In implementing the CARES Act, we urge the Department to provide regulatory flexibility to officials and institutions charged with disbursing and allocating funding derived from the legislation. In calculating the amounts to be distributed to institutions,
we encourage the Department to clarify the formula methodology used to disburse the funding and take into account the dramatic shift in financial resources that remain available to institutions and families in the wake of this pandemic.

Further, if not already otherwise permitted, we encourage the Department to allow institutions to augment student expense budgets to account for increased technology expenses required to complete remote education.

Some institutions may not have the capacity to enroll all students in a sufficient number of core courses to sustain the 12 credit hour minimum for federal aid, especially due to staff contract interruptions and enrollment changes during the pandemic, and
we encourage the Department to provide students with the flexibility required for students to continue to be eligible for federal aid.

We also seek further clarification of the Department’s intent in setting allowable uses for CARES Act funds, the timeline for distribution of those funds, and seek clarity on whether the Department will:

  • Limit which students are eligible to receive emergency grants, which could harm certain students,
  • Permit the use of emergency grants to reduce students’ loan indebtedness, which could be helpful or necessary for some students,
  • Limit direct support to undergraduate students, or also permit graduate students who are deserving and in need to receive relief,
  • Limit relief to students who are Title IV eligible, which would unfairly exclude students based on immigration status, and
  • Permit funding to be used until exhausted, or require funds to be expended by a certain date.

A number of institutions took immediate action to support students on their campuses, including providing emergency grants and loans for pandemic-related expenditures, and are deserving of timely support. We sincerely appreciate the Department’s work to
address these questions and concerns, especially in this time of great need and uncertainty.

Sincerely,

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Appropriations, Education

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