COVID-19 Relief Makes Its Way to Workers

As the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus continue to upend lives across the globe, policy makers continue to offer aid to Americans in the form of student loan, rent, and mortgage assistance, as well as protections from evictions.

Last week, Congress passed and the President signed the massive $2 trillion legislative package – the CARES Act – which is the third stimulus since the coronavirus crisis. CFA is analyzing the larger economic impacts of COVID-19 and will bring you updates on those efforts. We wanted to share at least one important issue that may affect many of you: student loan relief. Here is a breakdown of what that means:

  • The bill allows most borrowers to defer monthly payments through September 30 with zero financial penalties. Interest will be suspended, freezing the borrower’s balance.
  • There will be no garnishment of wages, Social Security, or tax refunds for student loan debt collection.
  • For those of you in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, these months will count as though you made a payment, moving you closer to loan forgiveness.
  • The Department of Education is required to notify borrowers within 15 days of their payments being suspended.

The stimulus package includes earmarks for higher education; CFA will advocate that the funding be spent on instruction.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced a 90-day mortgage relief program and released guidelines allowing cities and counties to stop landlords from evicting households affected by COVID-19.  CFA continues to monitor the coronavirus’ economic impact on our members and will update you as information arises.  For all COVID-19 updates, check out CFA’s resources page.

On Monday, the CSU Chancellor’s Office expanded its temporary paid administrative leave policy related to COVID-19 to more faculty, a direct result of CFA advocacy.

Looking to the future, questions have been raised about Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 terms. The Chancellor’s Office is highly encouraging instruction via virtual or online modalities for the summer. As CFA President Charles Toombs wrote earlier this week, “we hope that we are back on campuses in the Fall meeting the needs of students and supporting California’s recovery from this pandemic.”

One last reminder on assigning grades.  The CFA MOU stipulates faculty be granted academic freedom in grading students.  See this week’s Faculty Rights Tip for more information.

“As faculty, we exercise our professional judgement and academic freedom when we assign grades as we see fit,” Toombs said in his statement this week. “We encourage folks to use their best judgment, knowing that we have had to adapt and modify our syllabi and grading rubrics in response to COVID-19.”