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NEA provides guidance and resources for returning to classrooms safely, and with an emphasis on racial and social justice.
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Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

We need to ensure that the HEERF supports students, particularly students of color and under-resourced students, as well as protects the IHE workforce.
Students attend a political rally at Norfolk State University
Published: May 21, 2020

In addition to K-12 schools, Institutes of Higher Education (IHEs) have also felt the severe impact of COVID-19. Faculty, staff, and students continue to struggle to create normalcy in the midst of financial and academic challenges. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) awards public colleges $14 billion to help address these challenges, and NEA supports the following funding priorities to support students, particularly students of color and under-resourced students, and to help protect the IHE workforce:


The average borrower graduates with over $30,000 in debt.

NEA supports the suspension of student loan payments for the duration of the pandemic and the cancellation of $30,000 of federal student debt for every borrower. The NEA believes suspended payments should still count toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness requirements.


Faculty & staff should be sustained during this difficult time.

NEA supports federal funding to continue to pay both full-time and part-time faculty and staff. Students who receive work-study and teaching assistants should be included in the staff category for the duration of the pandemic.


Black and brown students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) have been severely impacted by this pandemic.

NEA supports debt cancellation for those who are the most vulnerable due to the pandemic as well as low-income borrowers and students who attend MSIs.


Students are in need of increased financial support.

NEA supports the reallocation of all remaining federal student aid funds to students in need of emergency aid as outlined in the CARES Act. This includes the support for community colleges through the Education Stabilization Fund.


Federal funds should be used to assist all students, regardless of immigration status.

NEA believes emergency COVID-19 funds for college students should not exclude DACA and undocumented students since the allocation of these funds to colleges are based on enrollment numbers that included these students.

NEA provides guidance and resources for returning to classrooms safely, and with an emphasis on racial and social justice.

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National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.