Bill Text: NJ AR199 | 2020-2021 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Urges Congress to address in future federal higher education stimulus legislation inequities in incorporation of part-time and online learning students in formula calculation.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 4-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2021-01-13 - Reported out of Assembly Committee, 2nd Reading [AR199 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2020-AR199-Introduced.html

ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION No. 199

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED OCTOBER 26, 2020

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE

District 37 (Bergen)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Urges Congress to address in future federal higher education stimulus legislation inequities in incorporation of part-time and online learning students in formula calculation.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Assembly Resolution respectfully urging the Congress of the United States to address certain inequities in future federal higher education stimulus aid. 

 

Whereas, The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound health and socioeconomic impacts on many industries and nearly all facets of society, including higher education; and

Whereas, The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced colleges and universities across the country to grapple with a host of unexpected costs related to the shift to online instruction, campus-wide sanitization efforts, and the maintenance of many other campus operations, all in the face of declining revenues; and

Whereas, The pandemic has concurrently caused a major disruption to the livelihoods of students as they were suddenly switched to online learning, experienced losses or delays in job opportunities and internships, and lost access to a host of important resources and services generally provided on-campus; and

Whereas, Under the federal "Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act" (CARES Act), the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) was established to provide more than $14 billion in aid to institutions of higher education; and

Whereas, Of the total $14 billion allocated to the HEERF, over $12 billion, half of which is required to go directly to students as emergency financial aid grants, is to be distributed to institutions using a formula based on an institution's full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment of federal Pell Grant recipients and FTE enrollment of non-Pell Grant recipients; and

Whereas, In calculating the aid amounts to be distributed to each institution, the formula laid out in the CARES Act excludes students exclusively enrolled in distance education courses; and

Whereas, Guidance issued by the federal Department of Education also states that students who were enrolled exclusively in online programs prior to the COVID-19 pandemic are not eligible for student emergency financial aid grants issued by institutions using funds from the HEERF; and 

Whereas, These policies adversely affect institutions that enroll a high number of part-time and online learning students and perpetuate the failure to offer meaningful support to these students, many of whom are employed and supporting families as they work toward degree completion; and

Whereas, A large portion of the students most acutely affected by these exclusions are working adult learners who have had to address interruption of their studies, economic hardship, and personal risk, to serve others; and

Whereas, In addition, a significant number of these students are low-income, individuals of color, from rural areas, or first-generation college students, groups which have been disproportionately affected by the current economic crisis; and

Whereas, In basing aid on FTE enrollment, the formula provided in the CARES Act has the effect of prioritizing institutions that have greater percentages of full-time students and does not offer equal treatment to those institutions that have higher part-time enrollment; and

Whereas, These policies further affect institutions that have designed their learning models to allow working adults the flexibility and affordability necessary to achieve their academic goals and pursue their college degrees; and

Whereas, Future federal legislation containing formulaic economic recovery aid for higher education should better account for part-time students in its calculations and address current disparities in federal funding between institutions that have greater full-time enrollment and those that enroll more part-time students; and

Whereas, To prevent the unequal treatment of online students in higher education economic recovery aid, future federal stimulus packages should ensure the provision of emergency financial aid grants to online students and incorporate those students into formulaic aid calculations; now, therefore,

 

     Be It Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  This House respectfully urges the United States Congress to address in future federal stimulus legislation:

     a.  inequities in the incorporation and treatment of part-time and online learning students, as currently evidenced in the formula used to calculate distributions from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund under the "Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act"; 

     b.  current disparities in federal funding between institutions that have greater full-time enrollment and those that enroll more part-time students by counting part-time students and full-time students in an equal manner; and  

     c.  the provision of emergency financial aid grants to online students and not exclude those students in formulaic aid calculations. 

 

     2.  Copies of this resolution, as filed with the Secretary of State, shall be transmitted by the Clerk of the General Assembly to the Majority and Minority Leaders of the United States Senate, to the Speaker and Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, and to each member of the United States Congress elected from this State.

STATEMENT

 

     The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced colleges and universities across the country to grapple with a host of unexpected costs in the face of declining revenues, and has concurrently caused a major disruption to the livelihoods of students. 

     To help address the negative effects experienced by college students and institutions of higher education, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) was established in the federal "Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act" (CARES Act), to provide more than $14 billion in aid.  Of the total $14 billion, over $12 billion, half of which is required to go directly to students as emergency financial aid grants, is to be distributed to institutions using a formula based on an institution's full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment of federal Pell Grant recipients and FTE enrollment of non-Pell Grant recipients.  In calculating the aid amounts to be distributed to each institution, the formula laid out in the CARES Act excludes students exclusively enrolled in distance education courses.  Guidance issued by the federal Department of Education states that students who were enrolled exclusively in online programs prior to the COVID-19 pandemic are not eligible for student emergency financial aid grants. 

     These policies adversely affect institutions that enroll a high number of part-time and online learning students.  The policies also serve to be detrimental to these students, a significant portion of whom are low-income, individuals of color, from rural areas, or first-generation college students, groups that have been disproportionately affected by the current economic crisis.  

     In basing aid on FTE enrollment, the formula provided in the CARES Act has the effect of prioritizing institutions that have greater percentages of full-time students and does not offer equal treatment to those institutions that have higher part-time enrollment.  By discounting online learning students from the formula calculation of higher education aid and not allowing them to receive emergency financial aid grants, the CARES Act explicitly disadvantages working adult learners and some of the most vulnerable college students. 

     This resolution urges Congress to address the current disparities in federal funding seen between institutions that have greater full-time enrollment and those that enroll more part-time students by counting part-time students and full-time students in an equal manner.  It also urges that future federal stimulus legislation ensure the provision of emergency financial aid grants to online students and not exclude those students in formula aid calculations.

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