As we close out an otherwise difficult and challenging year, we have good news to share with you: last night the U.S. Congress passed a new stimulus package and recognized our students by including $908 million in newly available emergency student grant aid for students attending institutions like cosmetology schools. School allocations of that funding are to be made available to schools within 30 days. We are extremely pleased that Congress acted in a bipartisan manner to support out students at this difficult time.
You spoke through several channels including our #Don’tCutUsOut campaign and our federal lawmakers listened. We appreciate all of you and your efforts. We were able to effectively vocalize the needs of our students across the nation through your phone2action activity, your grassroots activity, phone calls, videos, social media posts, emails, and letters to members of congress. AACS member schools generated almost 3,000 messages to Congress this year and most of those were specific to the impact of COVID-19 on our schools and this stimulus package.
The stimulus package contains other changes of significance including:
- Increase of the maximum Pell Grant award by $150 to $6,495 for the 2021 – 2022 school year.
- FAFSA Form simplification: The legislation will reduce the number of questions on the FAFSA form and streamline the formula for calculating who qualifies for Pell Grants. The changes will make more than 500,000 additional students eligible for Pell grants each year and another 1.8 million additional students will qualify to receive the maximum award. This is a major accomplishment for retiring Senate Education Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, who has been pushing FAFSA simplification proposals for many years.
- Restoring Pell Grant eligibility for students with successful borrower defense claim.
- Expanding subsidized federal student loans: The legislation lifts the cap on the amount of time undergraduate students can go to school without accruing interest on their need-based federal student loans. The legislation repeals a policy that cuts off the subsidy for borrowers who are still in school beyond 150 percent of their expected program length.
- Elimination of the longstanding restriction on federal financial aid to students who are convicted of drug offenses.
On behalf of everyone represented by AACS, thank you for your investment in doing what is right for our students! We wish you a happy, safe and successful new year!
For more information on the legislative text and summaries, please click on the following links:
- H.R. 133 legislative text (excerpted Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund text attached)
- The COVID-19 Emergency Relief Package – topline summary of the new agreement
- COVID Relief Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, summary
- Senate Appropriations Fiscal Year 2021 Omni summary
- COVID Relief: The Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses summary