Key Issues for Higher Education 

Accreditation Issues

Suspension of Federal Requirements on Accreditors (March 17, 2020)

The Trump administration today suspended a series of federal requirements for college accreditors because of the coronavirus pandemic.  The U.S. Department of Education gave accreditors permission to conduct virtual site visits instead of in-person inspections of campuses as hundreds of institutions scale back operations and restrict visitors on campus. (March 17, 2020)

Middle States Accreditation Operational Changes

The commission has a recorded webinar on how COVID-19 will affect its accreditation operations.


Extending the Deposit Deadline for Accepted Students (NACAC)

The National Association of College Admissions Counselors has the results of a survey showing what colleges and universities have extended their deadline for admission deposits beyond May 1, 2020.

Accepted Student Admission Deposit Deadlines (Chronicle, March 18, 2020)

Article on why some institutions are extending their deadline for admissions deposits and others are not.

Campus Facilities

Sharing Campus Facilities Resources during the COVID-19 Crisis

Guidance for college and university administrators on allowing government agencies to utilize facilities or other resources on campus.

Census 2020

Census 2020 & Counting Students (March 15, 2020)

The U.S. Census Bureau is adjusting it count operations and suspending field operations until April 1, 2020. Some changes have been made to the procedures to count students living in institution-owned housing.

What College Students Need to Know to be Counted in the Right Place

Link to a video on the 2020 Census targeted to students and produced by the Census Bureau

Family & Medical Leave Act & COVID-19

Family and Medical Leave Act (U.S. Department of  Labor) 

Questions and answers from the U.S. Department of Labor on the Family and Medical Leave Act and COVID-19.

Paid Sick and Family Leave Enacted into Law in Response to Coronovirus (March 19, 2020) 

Guidance on the sick and family leave requirement in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act legislation, prepared by Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP.

Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA and Its Application to Virtual Learning (webinar, March 30, 2020) 

The Student Privacy Office of the U.S. Department of Education produced a webinar on the application of FERPA to online or virtual learning during the COVID-19 crisis.  

FERPA and COVID-19: FAQs from the U.S. Department of Education 

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) resource from the U.S. Education Department, Students Privacy Policy Office. 

Financial Aid to Students: Federal

Federal Student Loan Annual Acknowledgement Delayed  (March 27, 2020) 

The requirement that students with federal loans complete the Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement before the loan is disbursed is delayed until 2021. 

Student Loan Borrowers May Suspend Payments (March 20, 2020) 

The Education Department will allow federal student loan borrowers to suspend payments for at least 60 days without penalty.

Federal Work Study Payments Can Continue During Campus Closure 

Students performing Federal Work-Study (FWS) at a campus that must close due to COVID-19 can continue to be paid (even if not working) if the closure occurred after the beginning of the term.  

Room and Board Refunds and Financial Aid (from NAICU 3/18/2020) 

Q: Generally does U.S. Department of Education have in place a policy regarding the impact of Room & Board refunds on R2T4 and financial audits for the institution?  We are looking for clear direction on how refunds are to be processed and treated. Can credits be issued for subsequent semesters? It seems like there are multiple strains of guidance from various groups. 

A: The decision whether to give students refunds or adjustments is entirely up to each institution and beyond the Department’s purview. If an institution decides to make refunds or adjustments, no recalculation of a student’s aid for the current year is necessary. Credits applied against next year’s charges are permitted. However, any credits applied against charges for upcoming periods of enrollment will be considered Estimated Financial Aid (EFA).

Financial Aid to Students: Pennsylvania

PHEAA State Grant Program Guidance 

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) has been monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on students as it relates to the PA State Grant Program.  The Agency has issued guidance for institutions on administering PHEAA grants during this outbreak.

Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPPA)

HIPAA Regulations Now Allow Telehealth Services (March 19, 2020) 

During the COVID-19 national emergency, health care providers subject to the HIPAA Rules may communicate with patients, and provide telehealth services, through remote communication technologies that may not fully comply with the original requirements of the HIPAA Rules. 

Human Resources Issues 

Employee Legal Issues Related to COVID-19 (March 29, 2020)

Link to a resource guide on safety and legal issues for employers prepared by the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP.

FAQs on COVID-19 Issues for Employers

Link to questions and answers on employment issues prepared by Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act - What Employers Need to Know March 19, 2020

 This link highlights part of the legislation most applicable to the employer/employee relationship

Legislation: COVID-19: Federal

Federal Legislation - Phase 1 Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Federal Legislation - Phase 2 Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act

Federal Legislation - Phase 3 Coronavirus Aid, Relied & Economic Security (CARES) Act

Legislation: COVID-19: Pennsylvania

Relevant COVID-19 PA Legislation

Here is a summary of bills introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature relating to COVID-19. (March 30, 2020)

Licensing Regulations -Suspension for COVID-19

Suspended Licensing Regulations for Retired/Out-State Healthcare Professionals 

Due to COVID-19, additional health care practitioners will be needed to treat ill Pennsylvanians. This link details the licensure suspensions granted by the Governor and provides additional information for health care professionals on how to obtain temporary licenses.

Loans & Grants for Higher Education for COVID-19 Response


COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application from the Small Business Administration (March 30, 2020)

Guidance & Resources on Disaster Loans from the Small Business Association 

Low-interest, long-term disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration may provide up to $2 million in assistance to nonprofits to continue operations. 

SBA Paycheck Protection Program for Institutions w/Under 500 Employees (NAICU - April 2, 2020) 

NAICU has issued a document outlining financial resources for institutions with under 500 employees who are experiencing financial difficulties because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Overview of Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program Guidelines for Institutions under 500

 This link provides an overview of the SBA Paycheck Protection Program guidelines for institutions with under 500 employees.

Chart Comparing SBA Loans for Non-Profits in the CARES Act (March 31, 2020) 

This chart, prepared by the National Council on Nonprofits, provides a summary of three loan programs for nonprofit organizations included in the recent CARES Act federal legislation. 

Coronavirus Upends Colleges' Financial State (Article, March 20, 2020) 

Uncertainty around colleges' financial futures may be at an all-time high. The one thing that's certain is that the weakest institutions are most likely to struggle. 

Federal Grants Administrative Relief under COVID-19 (March 9, 2020) 

Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Memo M-20-11), Office of Management and Budget.   

PA Emergency Declaration Approval by Federal Government

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