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These resources – like the public health crisis itself – are constantly evolving and are only current as to the date of publication. This page was last updated on April 26, 2020.

We recommend that you monitor this site, as well as the sites referenced in these resources, for updates and changes as we expect the situation and solutions to change over the coming weeks and months. For information on specific programs, we encourage you to visit the websites of the organizations or government entities that are responsible for the relief.

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Description of Program and Relief

COVID-19 Pandemic Education Relief Act of 2020

The COVID-19 Pandemic Education Relief Act of 2020 (the “Education Relief Act”) provides assistance to students and institutions of higher education impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Payments for certain federal loans, including the Direct Loan and Perkins Loan programs, are suspended and interest will not accrue through September 30, 2020. Involuntary payments such as wage garnishments are also suspended.

Institutions of higher education may provide emergency financial aid grants to cover unexpected expenses due to COVID-19, and may continue making work-study payments for up to one academic year for students unable to fulfill work-study obligations due to COVID-19. Such institutions need not return federal grants to students who withdrew due to COVID-19. Additionally, the Secretary of Education may waive any provisions of the Higher Education Act for the duration of the emergency for such institutions to receive federal aid.

For students who cannot remain enrolled in school due to COVID-19, the Secretary of Education may waive the requirement that students return Pell Grants and repay loans for the semester in which they withdrew. A student’s grades during the semester they withdrew will not be counted for purposes of eligibility for subsidized loans and Pell Grants.

Government or Lead Agency

Secretary of Education and the U.S. Department of Education

Dates Available

Available either for the fiscal or academic year in which the COVID-19 emergency occurs.

Eligibility Requirements/Restrictions

Individuals receiving educational grant funding through the Corporation for National and Community Service (“CNCS”) are also eligible to receive certain benefits if their service is impacted by the COVID-19 emergency. If a service position has been placed on hold or limited due to COVID-19, an individual may accrue other service hours that will count towards the number of hours necessary for the individual’s education award.

If a service position is ended early by the CNCS due to the COVID-19 emergency, the CEO of CNCS may deem an individual’s service requirement satisfied and award the full value of the grant the individual would otherwise have received. The CEO of CNCS may also allow service programs to maintain a pro rata amount of CNCS funding in order to maintain operations and accept participants. CNCS is authorized to extend the term of service or waive upper age limits for participation in national service programs for up to one year following the end of the COVID-19 emergency.

Teachers who are recipients of grants under the section 420N of the Higher Education Act of 1965 are permitted to fulfill their service requirements with alternate activities in order to meet their obligations under the grant. The Secretary of Education will also provide loan forgiveness by waiving the requirements under the Act that the years of teaching service be consecutive if the borrower’s teaching service is interrupted due to the COVID-19 emergency.

An “institution of higher education” has the meaning ascribed to the term in section 102 of the Higher Education Act of 1965. The following requirements apply:

  • The institution cannot offer 50% or more of its courses by correspondence or enroll 50% or more of its students in correspondence courses,

  • The institution cannot have more than 25% of its students incarcerated, and

  • The institution cannot have more than 50% of enrolled students who do not have a secondary school diploma or a recognized equivalent

The Secretary of Education shall certify an institution’s qualification as an institution of higher learning.

An “affected work-study student” means a student enrolled at an eligible institution, who is participating in the work-study program under Part C of title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, and:

  • Received a work-study award for the academic year during which the COVID-19 emergency occurred,

  • Earned Federal work-study wages for that academic year, and

  • Was prevented from fulfilling the work-study obligation for all or part of that academic year due to the COVID-19 emergency.

Contact for More Information

U.S. Department of Education Organizational Directory:

General and contact information related to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act:

© 2021 Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. This does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. In some jurisdictions, this publication may be considered attorney advertising. Past representations are no guarantee of future outcomes.

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