Volume 40
Community College Update
NO. 6
PUBLICATION DATE: March 20, 2020

Federal Student Aid Office Issues Guidance on Flexibility Options for Student Programs Affected by Coronavirus

There have been, and continue to be, announcements across the nation of colleges and universities closing programs and campuses and offering more online education due to the Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19).

On March 5, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid issued a memorandum that provides some guidance for local higher educational institutions. The memorandum provides options for flexibility amid COVID-19 concerns—options that are geared toward meeting the needs of students whose educational programs are impacted by COVID-19. These are the conditions that are addressed in the memo:

  • A student whose program includes travel abroad, and either has been called back to the U.S. or was not able to begin the travel abroad experience due to COVID-19
  • A student who met the requirements for full-time enrollment, but has fallen below the 12 credit hour minimum due to one or more classes—such as an internship, student teaching, or clinical rotation—having been cancelled because of COVID-19
  • A student who misses class because they are quarantined or incapacitated due to a COVID-19 illness
  • To prevent the spread of COVID-19; a campus temporarily stops offering ground-based classes
  • A foreign school that serves U.S. students who participate in Title IV programs temporarily suspends operations due to COVID-19

The full memorandum with the guidance can be found here.

In its memorandum, the Office of Federal Student Aid recommends that local higher educational institutions maintain documentation of any actions taken, including the options offered in the memorandum, due to COVID-19.

On a related note, today, March 9, 2020, the California Department of Public Health issued guidance for higher educational institutions in California. This guidance includes measures that should be taken, depending on whether there are any case of COVID-19 among students or staff. Today’s guidance can be found here.