(TRENTON) – College students enrolled exclusively in online programs before the COVID-19 pandemic were not eligible to receive emergency financial aid grants through the federal CARES Act, resulting in countless students being excluded from critical assistance aimed to help them continue pursuing higher education through this public health crisis.
Recognizing that distance learning students have been adversely impacted by COVID-19, the Assembly Higher Education Committee recently advanced a measure (AR-199) to urge Congress to incorporate part-time and online students in future federal stimulus legislation and address current federal funding disparities between institutions with larger full-time enrollment and those with larger part-time enrollment. Specifically, the measure would urge Congress to distribute emergency financial aid grants to online students.
Sponsors of the measure, Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) and Robert Karabinchak (D-Middlesex) released the following joint statement:
“Every college student has been impacted immeasurably by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only has their learning been disrupted, but many are shouldering job losses, health concerns and family commitments. Excluding online students from emergency federal assistance has only widened the existing academic and economic disparities within higher education.
“Any future federal relief must be distributed to students equitably. Beyond this public health crisis, we must continue working to make higher education more accessible to all.”