Summary of Latest COVID Legislation from AASA
Email to our Executive Director from Noelle Ellerson, AASA
Good morning state executives
First, thank you to everyone for signing on to the COVID waiver letter. The final version is attached (click here to review) and—for only the second time in my 12 year career—we had a joint letter from all 49 of our affiliates.
Second, a summary of the emergency legislation introduced by Senate Republicans yesterday. Please note the entire package is under negotiation; we will keep you updated.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell released a proposal for a third coronavirus relief bill that includes provisions related to education and student aid. I’ve attached a section-by-section summary (the pdf) and a summary of the bill that, unfortunately, doesn’t include the education title. The package currently includes zero dollars for K12, but does include proposals related to waiver relief (This is related to what we asked for but needs to be tightened; it is in complement to what we expect the Secretary to unveil today) The education title – the COVID-19 Pandemic Education Relief Act of 2020 – is Division D, Title II, and starts with section 4501 on page 87. In general, it provides relief to students with grants, work study, and loans who drop out because of the pandemic, provides 3 to 6 months of deferred payments for student loan borrowers, and allows waivers for state compliance with some regulations in specified education laws. Some major provisions are:
- Waivers for requirements of ESSA, HEA, and Perkins – Section 4511 allows the Secretary of Education to waive requirements and regulations – except not for civil rights – under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Higher Education Act, and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. It does not allow wavers of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) but gives the Secretary of Education 30 days to report to Congress if there are waivers “to provide limited flexibility to States and local educational agencies” for IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act.
- Continues student grants – Sections 4503-4508 allow students to continue to receive federal grants and aid even if their studies are stopped as a result of the pandemic, and don’t count the semester against future loan or grant eligibility for students who drop out this semester.
- Suspends payments on loans for at least three months – Section 4513 suspends all student loan payments for 3 months and allows the Secretary to suspend them for an additional 3 months. Interest will not accrue, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness will count the deferred months as if payments had been made.
Democratic leadership is reviewing the bill – Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer released a short statement on the bill tonight that read: “We are beginning to review Senator McConnell’s proposal and on first reading, it is not at all pro-worker and instead puts corporations way ahead of workers.” The House is not planning to come back into session until it is ready to vote on the next response bill, whether it is this one or another one.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Noelle Ellerson Ng
Associate Executive Director, Advocacy & Governance
AASA, The School Superintendents Association