Regulatory Agency and Selected Accreditor Resources for Higher Education Institutions Regarding COVID-19 Pandemic (Update #6)

Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

Updated as of July 14, 2020

Higher education institutions worldwide are striving to meet their students’ educational needs while working to reduce and decelerate the spread of COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus. In view of guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health authorities, many educational institutions have moved to online instruction, extended their spring break, shortened or shifted their academic year, or have otherwise departed from the normal course of business.

Because of the highly regulated nature of higher education, it is important that institutions remain mindful of the statutory and regulatory constraints that continue to apply at this time. Recently, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has provided updated guidance regarding the administration of the Title IV federal student aid programs, study abroad, stimulus funds provided under the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and other matters. Institutional accreditors are providing guidance regarding the transition to online coursework and are canceling upcoming site visits. Programmatic accreditors are also providing guidance relating to this public health emergency, including with respect to clinical coursework, which is often the capstone to programs in the health professions. (For instance, certain programmatic accreditors are not changing clinical requirements at all, while others are providing limited flexibility in specific circumstances.) Other federal regulators are providing guidance on other key matters, such as the availability of veterans’ education benefits and the status of international students whose U.S. institutions are taking emergency measures to address COVID-19. Higher education institutions are therefore advised to keep abreast of the latest guidance provided by federal and state regulators, as well as by their institutional and programmatic accrediting bodies, during this protracted period of non-standard operations.

Below, please find links to the most recent guidance provided by ED and other pertinent federal agencies, institutional accreditors, certain programmatic accreditors, and certain interstate commissions and higher education organizations with respect to COVID-19 and related exigencies. We encourage you to review the relevant guidance, as well as any guidance from pertinent state educational authorities, for its potential application to your institution. Should you have any questions regarding these or other educational regulatory matters, please do not hesitate to contact any member of our Education team, or your usual Faegre Drinker contact.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. Department of Education

  • COVID-19 ("Coronavirus") Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel, guidance and other materials regarding emergency regulatory waivers and policy changes: See guidance here.
  • CARES Act Education Stabilization Fund (General Information): See guidance here.
  • March 11 Dear CPA Letter CPA-20-01, Site Visit Exemption During COVID-19 Outbreak: See guidance here.
  • May 6 Electronic Announcement Regarding Higher Education Emergency Relief Reporting - Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students: See guidance here.
  • May 15 Updated Guidance for interruptions of study related to Coronavirus (Updated June 16, 2020): See guidance here.
  • July 10 Electronic Announcement Regarding Additional Regulatory Flexibilities Related to Coronavirus: See guidance here.
  • July 10 Electronic Announcement Regarding Update on Required CARES Act Quarterly Reporting: See guidance here.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

  • March 12 Notice (via Facebook post) — COVID-19 Virus Concerns and How It Affects Your Benefits: See guidance here.
  • March 23 Notice (via VA Official Blog post) — Veterans’ GI Bill Benefits to Continue During COVID-19 Pandemic: See guidance here.
  • Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Public Health Information for Veterans: See guidance here.
  • COVID-19 FAQs for School Certifying Officials: See guidance here.
  • COVID-19 Information Affecting Education Benefits: See guidance here.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Student and Exchange Visitor Program)

  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Guidance on COVID-19: See guidance here.
  • March 9 Broadcast Message — Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Potential Procedural Adaptations for F and M Nonimmigrant Students: See guidance here.
  • March 13 Guidance for SEVP Stakeholders: See guidance here.
  • Optional COVID-19 School Reporting Template: See guidance here.
  • FAQs for SEVP Stakeholders (Last Updated July 6): See guidance here.
  • FAQs for SEVP Stakeholders about Guidance for the Fall 2020 Semester (Last Updated July 7): See guidance here.

Accrediting Agencies

Select Institutional Accreditors

Selected Programmatic Accreditors

  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES): See guidance here.
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE): See guidance here.
  • American Bar Association Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar (ABA): See guidance here.
  • American Occupational Therapy Association, Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (AOTA-ACOTE): See guidance here.
  • American Physical Therapy Association, Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (APTA-CAPTE): See guidance here.
  • Commission on Dental Accreditation, American Dental Association (CODA): See guidance here.
  • Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME): See guidance here

Interstate Commissions and Higher Education Organizations

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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