President Biden’s American Rescue Plan + Additional Relief for Borrowers

President Biden introduced the American Rescue Plan that includes $35 billion in critical new emergency funding for higher education. Building on last month’s spending deal, which included $20 billion in emergency relief for higher education, this additional investment, if passed by Congress, would help students and colleges weather the current public health crisis and safely re-open when the time is right.

The Biden Administration also extended emergency federal student loan benefits last week — including the payment pause, zero-percent interest rate, and halt on collections and wage garnishments — through September 30, 2021.

Read our statement on the American Rescue Plan
Visit our resources page for students and borrowers impacted by COVID-19

What to Know: New FAFSA Changes

In December, Congress passed a massive legislative package that included emergency pandemic relief measures, funding for the federal government, and a number of policy changes related to higher education. Notably, the bill included provisions to overhaul the financial aid application process and expand Pell Grant eligibility.

Read our summary of the changes

California Governor’s 2021-22 Budget Proposes Smart, Urgently Needed Investments for Students

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of college students and the institutions that serve them. At this pivotal time, California Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2021-22 state budget proposal would make smart, urgently needed investments to help struggling students afford and complete college.

These include a substantial increase in the number of Cal Grants available to older students, larger grants for current and former foster youth, and resources for emergency financial aid. Investments to focus colleges’ efforts on improving graduation rates and reengaging students who have withdrawn will bolster needed supports for the most at-risk students, while investments in the continued development of the state’s Cradle-to-Career data system will ensure that the state can track progress in closing equity gaps further exacerbated by the crisis.

Read our statement
Read our memo on Cal Grant reform efforts

Scaling Student Success: A National Proposal

Increased college attainment holds tremendous promise for increasing social mobility, tackling poverty, and reducing racial and income inequality, aspirations that are more vital than ever as the devastating impact of the pandemic has fallen disproportionately on people of color. Yet, for too many policymakers and practitioners, the path to growing our college completion rates for all students has been elusive.

Our new policy proposal details a $1 billion plan for scaling comprehensive student success initiatives, with the goal of ultimately doubling the number of first-generation, low-income, Black, Indigenous, and Latino students who graduate from college.

Read the proposal
View the fact sheet

TICAS In the News

  • Biden instructs Education Department to extend pause on federal student loan payments through September | Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, The Washington Post
    “In the meantime, about 41 million Americans will continue to benefit from the federal government’s pause of student loan payments. ‘This is really important,” said Jessica Thompson, associate vice president at the Institute for College Access & Success. “It allows borrowers to take a sigh of relief, (and) get out of this cycle of being reliant on the current politics of the day determining whether they’re going to have to start paying again.’”
  • How Biden’s Education Department will tackle pandemic and Trump-era policies | Candice Norwood, PBS Newshour
    “In higher education, colleges and universities would benefit from more federal funding, said Debbie Cochrane, executive vice president of the nonprofit Institute for College Access & Success. State budget cuts often lead to education cuts, Cochrane said, which means higher education institutions often have to raise tuition, lay off faculty and cut valuable services to students.”
  • Major School Spending Back on Agenda After Georgia Senate Wins | Andrew Kreighbaum, Bloomberg Government
    “With the ability to set the Senate’s agenda, Democrats can push for more Covid relief or education spending, but they’ll require Republican support to meet the 60-vote supermajority that applies to most Senate legislation unless they pass those priorities through reconciliation. ‘Those are all things that require significant new investments from the federal government,’ said Jessica Thompson, associate vice president at the Institute for College Access & Success. ‘We see reconciliation as a pathway to potentially move some of those investments.’”
  • For millions of college grads mired in student debt, will Biden offer a bit more breathing room? | Bill Schackner, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    “‘Although growth in graduates’ debt has flattened in the past few years, and declined very slightly this year, many recent borrowers struggle to repay their loans,’ the institute’s president, James Kvaal, said in a letter this fall accompanying the annual report. ‘Low-income students, Black and Latino students, students who do not complete their programs, and students who attend for-profit colleges are disproportionately likely to struggle to repay.’ In fact, the 42-page report, Student Debt and the Class of 2019, says Black students who borrow run into difficulties repaying at a rate nearly double that of white graduates.”