Higher Education Associations Detail Need for Urgent $120B Pandemic Relief
APLU joined more than 100 higher education associations on a letter to House and Senate leadership urging $120 billion for institutions of higher education in the next COVID-19 relief package. The letter details losses and expenses of colleges and universities and needs of students as institutions continue to grapple with the pandemic. Of particular note, the associations outline unprecedented financial struggles of colleges and universities due to enrollment declines, state budget cuts, loss of auxiliary revenue, and expenses incurred for testing, personal protective equipment and more related to the pandemic.
The $120 billion request letter was generated through surveys conducted by APLU and several associations, providing clear data on direct impact of the pandemic on students and institutions of higher education.
FY2021 Appropriations Update
According to news reports, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) struck a deal last week on 302(b) allocations, which determine level of funding available to each appropriations subcommittee, paving the way for possible FY2021 omnibus negotiations. The allocations, totaling $1.4 trillion in discretionary spending, are not expected to be released until the omnibus is unveiled. Per CQ Budget, disputes that could hinder progress on bipartisan negotiations include whether to attach any emergency spending for the COVID-19 pandemic to an omnibus, border wall funding, and abortion policy provisions.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is hopeful a compromise will be reached by December 7. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said they were committed to passing an omnibus in the lame duck session. The government is currently being funded on a continuing resolution, which is set to expire on December 11.
As a reminder, APLU sent a letter to House and Senate leadership and appropriations chairs and ranking members on November 24 urging passage of a final FY2021 appropriations package with the “strongest possible funding levels” for higher education and research programs. Additionally, APLU developed analyses for each of the House and Senate appropriations bills. The APLU FY 2021 appropriations priorities chart has been updated to reflect House and Senate action.
Associations Urge Extension of Student Loan Relief
APLU and partner organizations sent a letter to Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urging the administration to “extend the current suspension of payment and zero percent interest for federal student loan borrowers, as well as the suspension of collections on defaulted loans.” The letter argues that since the provision was first included in the CARES Act in March, the economic circumstances for students have not changed and notes that with six weeks left until the provision expires, there is not “nearly enough time for borrowers to adjust their finances accordingly, especially during a time of such volatility, nor is it enough time to prepare the infrastructure for millions of borrowers resuming payments at once.”