Supporting Today’s Students Through COVID-19

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, much of Higher Learning Advocates’ work over the past month has focused on COVID-19 and how changes in higher education are affecting today’s students. We’ve compiled our own resources below, as well as resources from our partners and others in the field. We will continue to update this page with policy recommendations, Insights & Outlooks stories, and any other information related to the coronavirus pandemic and today’s students.

Higher Learning Advocates’ Policy Recommendations to Support Today’s Students in Response to COVID-19

Policy Solutions:

Expand the Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit to benefit students with dependents

Reset Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for returning students

Get Americans Back to Work Through High-Quality, Short-Term Postsecondary Programs

Allow Federal Student Aid to be Used for Prior Learning Assessment

Remove Pell LEU Barrier for Low-Income Students Re-entering Higher Education

Read more about these policy solutions here.

Policy Solutions:

FAFSA + Prior-Prior Year

Provide flexibility through financial aid professional judgments

Read more about these policy solutions here.

Policy Solutions:

Expand Broadband Connectivity for Today’s Students in College

Expand Access to Open Educational Resources (OER)

Read more about these policy solutions here.

Higher Learning Advocates’ Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

The HLA team put out a list of nine further policy recommendations, as outlined above, that should be enacted to best support today’s students during these uncertain times. These recommendations are organized into three areas where policy change can have the biggest impact in light of the COVID-19 pandemic: Reskilling adults through postsecondary education to re-enter the workforce, updating financial aid rules to account for our current economic environment, and supporting today’s students’ learning at home. 

On April 24, fifty-two organizations came together to urge Congress to better support students who are unexpectedly attending classes online due to the coronavirus pandemic in a letter spearheaded by Higher Learning Advocates. A campaign to send letters to Congress in support of expanded broadband access accompanied this letter; you can send a letter to your Member of Congress here.

When the CARES Act was passed on March 27, Executive Director Julie Peller made a statement applauding its passage and the inclusion of higher education policies such as the allowable use of Supplemental Education Grants (SEOG) for emergency aid for students, Pell Grant lifetime eligibility usage limit and SAP flexibility, and the continuation of Federal Work Study payments for students included in the package.

On March 18th, fifty-two organizations came together to urge Congress to support students in response to campus closures and restrictions due to COVID-19 in a letter spearheaded by Higher Learning Advocates. Executive Director Julie Peller released a statement to underscore the importance of student-focused legislation.

Higher Learning Advocates also spearheaded a campaign urging individuals to take action by asking their members of Congress to pass legislation that would support today’s students affected by college closures and restrictions. Over 500 letters were sent before the introduction of the final coronavirus response package that was signed into law.

Nia Davis Sigona, Higher Learning Advocates’ Government Relations Director, and Kyle Southern, Young Invincibles’ Policy and Advocacy Director of Higher Education and Workforce, authored a blog post urging Congress to center student parents and their needs in any upcoming legislation. 

Stories from Students and Leaders

This month’s Insights and Outlooks features articles from students across the country who have been affected by changes at their colleges due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In addition to these student stories, the HLA team also published several “Exclusive Insights,” stand-alone stories from leaders discussing how the pandemic is affecting higher education, and how it might change in the future. Authors include Jamie Merisotis and Terri Taylor of Lumina Foundation and Aaron Thompson, President of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.  You can find all of this month’s “Exclusive Insights” below.