President Biden Issues Executive Order Directing U.S. Department of Education to Reassess Title IX Rules

On March 8, 2021, the Biden Administration published an Executive Order on “Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.” In short, the EO requires the U.S. Department of Education to reassess how it directs college campuses to investigate sexual violence – specifically, the 2020 Title IX Rule, 85 FR 30026 – as well as other regulations related to Title IX. Continue reading “President Biden Issues Executive Order Directing U.S. Department of Education to Reassess Title IX Rules”

U.S. Department of Education Solicits Comments on Proposed Institutional Eligibility Criteria for HEERF Supplemental Aid

On February 25th, the U.S. Department of Education published a notice requesting comment on proposed eligibility criteria for implementing the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), Section 314(a)(3) program, called the Supplemental Aid to Institutions of Higher Education (SAIHE) Program for which Congress authorized at set aside of Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF). The notice also requests public comment on the proposed criteria and application information that the Department will use to determine eligibility. Only public and non-profit institutions of higher education are eligible for funding under Section 314(a)(3).

According to the notice, the Department is proposing to use the following institutional criteria to determine SAIHE eligibility of those institutions with the greatest unmet needs related to COVID-19: Continue reading “U.S. Department of Education Solicits Comments on Proposed Institutional Eligibility Criteria for HEERF Supplemental Aid”

Guidance and Considerations for Masks on Campus: Students and Employees

On January 21, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety. On January 29th, OSHA issued new comprehensive guidance. (See OSHA’s COVID-19 guidance here)

This recent guidance is intended to inform employers and workers outside of the healthcare industry and to assist them in determining up-to-date and appropriate control measures to implement. The guidance encourages employers to create and adhere to a COVID-19 Prevention Program and include the following key elements: conducting a hazard assessment; identifying a combination of measures that limit COVID-19 spread; adopting measures to ensure that workers who are sick are separated and sent home; and implementing protections from retaliation for workers who raise COVID-19 related concerns. The guidance recommends that employers provide all workers with face coverings at no cost. OSHA also notes that, in order to keep employees safe, it is critical that employers monitor compliance with workplace guidelines. Continue reading “Guidance and Considerations for Masks on Campus: Students and Employees”

USCIS Makes Optional Practical Training Completion Easier for F-1 Students as Agency Faces Delays

Given substantial delays in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) issuance of receipt notices and adjudication of I-765 applications for employment authorization by F-1 students seeking optional practical training (OPT), USCIS is making it easier for students to complete their 12-month OPT within the requisite 14 months.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm’s website.

Biden Administration Confirms Continued Exceptions for Certain International Students and Academics

With a month in office, the Biden Administration is taking steps to reveal its COVID-19 policy approach to international students and academics. On January 25, 2021, the President announced Proclamation #10143, which extended the previous administration’s limitation on travel to the U.S. from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. On February 10, 2021, the Department of State confirmed that national interest exceptions (NIE) to the travel ban, first issued in October 2020, will remain in place in the new administration. Continue reading “Biden Administration Confirms Continued Exceptions for Certain International Students and Academics”

Temporary Expanded SNAP Benefits for College Students

Expanding access to postsecondary education for low income students includes more than just assistance with tuition and fees. Many low income students also need help with daily food costs while they pursue higher education. That need can adversely impact academic progress if not addressed. Needs have been exacerbated by the pandemic and high unemployment, and impact students whether they study on ground or online. Food insecurity among college students is gaining more attention, with the opening of college food pantries and other community support initiatives. The federal government is also stepping up. The U.S. Department of Education, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has issued new guidance to postsecondary institutions to raise awareness about temporarily expanded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility for students and urges institutions to make students aware of this resource. The expansion of benefits will be in effect until 30 days after the COVID-19 public health emergency is lifted. The new guidance can be found here: https://ifap.ed.gov/electronic-announcements/022321SNAPbenefitseligiblestudsCOVID19pandemic

 

FY 2018 Draft Cohort Default Rates Released to Title IV Participating Institutions of Higher Education – Time Frame for Appeal Begins March 2, 2021

On Feb. 22, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education distributed the FY 2018 draft cohort default rate (CDR) notification packages to all eligible domestic and foreign schools for those schools enrolled in the Electronic Cohort Default Rate (eCDR) notification process. Any school not enrolled in eCDR may download their cohort default rates and accompanying Loan Record Detail Reports from the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®) via the NSLDS Professional Access website.

The time frame for appealing the FY 2018 draft cohort default rates under 34 C.F.R Part 668, Subpart N begins on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 for all schools.

Under the Title IV financial responsibility regulations at 34 C.F.R. 668.171(d)(6), the Department has discretion to determine that a Title IV institution is not able to meet its financial or administrative Title IV obligations (which can lead to a letter of credit requirement or other potential adverse action) if the institution’s two most recent official cohort default rates are 30 percent or greater and such circumstance is likely to have a material adverse effect on the financial condition of the institution, unless the institution has a challenge, adjustment or appeal pending or successfully finalized.

Note that any school that did not have a borrower in repayment, during the current or any of the past cohort default rate periods, will not receive a FY 2018 draft cohort default rate notification package. These schools are considered to have no cohort default rate data and no cohort default rate.

https://ifap.ed.gov/electronic-announcements/022221FY2018DraftCDRDistributedFeb222021

 

Have COVID’s Pricing and Learning Disruptions Opened a Pandora’s Box?

A common question for colleges today is whether to reduce tuition prices if they cannot provide on-campus classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The short answer, both legally and morally, is that colleges should not charge students for services they cannot or do not deliver.

The ultimate answer is more complex and requires a disaggregating analysis of the services that that were included in the price of tuition, including a review of the value associated with in-person interactions.

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris partner Tony Guida, please visit the University Business website.

Biden Issues Executive Order Regarding Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Discrimination

As anticipated by our prior post, President Biden issued an executive order on his first day in office addressing gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination. In doing so, President Biden is taking aim at dismantling the recently published Department of Education’s internal memorandum, which concluded Title IX’s protections against discrimination on the basis of “sex” do not generally extend to sexual orientation or gender identity.

In the order, Continue reading “Biden Issues Executive Order Regarding Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Discrimination”

In One of Its Final Actions, Department of Education Releases Internal Memorandum Analyzing Title IX as it Relates to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

On January 8, 2021, the Department of Education (“Department”) publicly released a 13-page internal memorandum from the Department’s Office of the General Counsel to the Department’s Office for Civil Rights that sets forth an analysis of Title IX as it relates to sexual orientation and transgender status.  Specifically, the memo addresses the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton Cnty., 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020) on Title IX. Bostock held that the definition of “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, including transgender status.

The memo’s analysis focuses on 5 questions:

      1. Does the Bostock decision construe Title IX?
      2. Does Bostock affect the meaning of “sex” as that term is used in Title IX?
      3. How should OCR view allegations that a recipient targets individuals for discriminatory treatment on the basis of a person’s transgender status or homosexuality?
      4. After Bostock, how should OCR view allegations of employment discrimination or sexual harassment based on an individual’s transgender status or homosexuality?
      5. How does the Department interpret Title IX and its implementing regulations in light of Bostock with respect to athletics, intimate facilities, religious exemptions, and other sex-segregated programs or activities addressed under Title IX and its regulations?

The memo concludes Continue reading “In One of Its Final Actions, Department of Education Releases Internal Memorandum Analyzing Title IX as it Relates to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”