WASHINGTON – During a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing yesterday, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan discussed the financial impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on students and called for additional steps to help them stay in school.
To watch the Senator’s questioning click here.
Following a bipartisan request led by Senator Hassan, the Department of Education clarified that financial aid administrators can adjust a student’s financial eligibility based on changes to their financial situation, including recent unemployment.
Senator Hassan yesterday called for the Department of Education to also update the FAFSA form, exclude unemployment benefits from the financial aid calculation, and conduct outreach to ensure that recently unemployed workers are aware of their higher education options.
“We need to do more for our current and future students,” said Senator Hassan.
Kim Cook, Executive Director of the National College Attainment Network, stated, “Many of our students unfortunately do find themselves or family members with changes in employment, catastrophic health care bills, and unfortunately in some situations, the death of a parent. This is a lot to manage…We appreciate the flexibility that has been put in place so far but agree with you that more can be done to better support our students, particularly those with unemployment.”
Senator Hassan also addressed the importance of education programs that support businesses and workers amid the pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated businesses across New Hampshire, and put a record number of people out of work. I have heard from many constituents who are struggling to find work in their chosen field, and who need access to upskilling and retraining programs,” said Senator Hassan.
Senator Hassan discussed her bipartisan Upskilling and Retraining Assistance Act to help expand educational and training opportunities for workers and help ensure that employers have the tools to hire and retrain workers who may have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
Kristin Hultquist, Founding Partner of HCM Strategists, said, “Higher education is absolutely critical to economic recovery,” and discussed the important role of partnerships between higher education institutions and employers.