In this week’s roundup:  

DACA starts accepting first-time applications following a court order, student loan relief is extended for millions of borrowers, and colleges and universities reflect on the lessons from the fall semester.

Stay tuned for our weekly roundup on what trends we’re seeing across institutions, how individual colleges and universities are responding to them and what national policy changes are affecting higher ed.

December 3  9

  • A federal judge has reinstated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, claiming that the Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf does not have the power to instate the program-weakening restrictions he had imposed. An estimated 1.3 million people have become eligible for DACA since the Trump administration terminated the program in 2017. 
  • U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos extended student loan relief for millions of borrowers until January 31, 2021. The previous moratorium was set to expire at the end of this year, causing a potentially disruptive gap after the current relief expired but before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20, 2021. 
  • Meanwhile, House and Senate negotiators moved closer to a deal that would simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. 
  • Biden’s pick to lead the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, was part of a modeling study which showed that frequent testing of students at colleges and universities could be paramount for avoiding outbreaks on campus this fall. 
  • A recent expert panel agreed that surveillance COVID-19 testing remains the recommended -- but expensive -- goal for colleges and universities who plan to bring students back in the spring. 
  • Many colleges and universities will bring students back for the spring semester -- sometimes in larger volumes than before -- despite rising national COVID-19 case numbers, claiming lessons learned from the fall as justification.
  • Rating agencies this week warned of “fundamental changes” coming for colleges and universities, predicting a long and uneven recovery for the nation’s institutions. 
  • The financial pressures of the pandemic have caused some colleges and universities to reimagine their employment structure, with layoffs, reassignment and even cutting tenure
  • Despite growing numbers of Latinx students in higher education, a federal program provided only $87 per Latinx student enrolled at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) last year. The report by the Center for American Progress calls for Congress to invest a total of $1 billion in HSIs, which collectively enroll 2.5 billion Latinx students. 
  • Approval for a club focused on racial justice at the University of Dallas has been hard to get for the organizers, with students and faculty members raising “concerns and questions” about the need for the club. 
  • The University of Pittsburgh, which required a one-credit course on anti-Black racism for full-time first-year students this fall, made course materials available for free online. 


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