Plan Would “Repurpose” $500 million in Unspent Covid Relief that Was Set Aside for Higher Ed

By The New England Council

DC Shuttle …

Senate Covid-19 Relief Compromise Would Repurpose $500 Million in Higher Ed Funding. The U.S. Senate reached a bipartisan “agreement in principle” for a $10 billion Covid-19 relief bill. The compromise reprograms billions in unused money from other coronavirus bills to fund Covid-19-related therapeutics, testing and vaccine distribution efforts. It proposes to rescind $500 million of higher education funding from the American Rescue Plan Act that has not yet been awarded to colleges and universities. The American Rescue Plan act set aside a total of $39.6 billion for higher education, but nearly $886 million of K-12 and higher education relief funding from this bill had not yet been awarded by the Education Department as of last week. It is not yet clear how exactly the $500 million of unspent Covid relief allocated to higher education would be repurposed. By week’s end, the Senate had not taken action on the Covid relief bill due to disagreements regarding border policy. Read more from Politico.

House Education and Labor Committee Advances WIOA Reauthorization. The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee advanced the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2022 (H.R. 7309). The bill was approved by a vote of 29-21, with no Republicans voting in favor. If passed, this bill would reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) for six years, fully fund the workforce development system and “expand access to high-quality job training, career navigation services and other critical services.” During the committee markup, Chair Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) stated that this reauthorization bill would “expand summer and year-round subsidized employment for disconnected youth,” reauthorize YouthBuild and “build community colleges’ capacity to provide employment and training programs leading to credentials in in-demand industries.” To increase access to high-quality job training programs for workers, Scott noted that “the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2022 remedies decades of underfunding in workforce development so we can finally meet the needs of both workers and businesses.” With this reauthorization bill, higher education institutions will be better equipped to provide career and job training opportunities to their students. For the fact sheet of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2022, click here

Biden Administration Extends the Pause of Student Loan Repayments Through August. The Biden administration will once again extend the pause on federal student loan repayments, this time through Aug. 31, 2022. This payment freeze was put in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and was set to expire on May 1, 2022. The announcement marks the fourth extension of the student loan repayment pause by the Biden administration. In a statement, President Joe Biden asserted that “additional time will assist borrowers in achieving greater financial security and support the Department of Education’s efforts to continue improving student loan programs.” This announcement follows a letter sent to Biden last week, written and signed by dozens of Democratic lawmakers including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), in which members of Congress urged the Biden administration to extend the pause on federally held student loan payments until “at least the end of the year” and to “provide meaningful student debt cancellation.” It remains unclear whether the president will use an executive order to implement debt cancellation for student loans. Read more on the extension here.

We publish the DC Shuttle each week Congress is in session featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of April 11, 2022. For more information, please visit:


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