COVID-19 Update: Relief for Student Loan Borrowers

On March 25, 2020, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced efforts to increase flexibility regarding payments for student loan borrows. The efforts are to ensure that borrowers will not endure additional stress in making ends meet during the unprecedented and burdensome times we are in. The flexibility will be for no less than 60 days from March 13, 2020, the date that President Donald Trump declared a national emergency relating to COVID-19.

DeVos’ efforts include halting all of the requests made to the U.S. Treasury that comprise withholding money from defaulted borrowers, known as Treasury offsets. These are withholdings from remittances such as federal income tax refunds, Social Security payments, or other federal payments that are withheld at the direction of the Department or Education or another debt collection agency. Additionally, Devos directed the Department of Education to refund nearly $1.8 billion in offsets to over 830,000 borrowers.

DeVos’ efforts include any wage garnishments. The Department of Education is relying on employers to make the change to borrowers’ paychecks and halt wage garnishments and is directing employees to contact their employers’ human resources department for assistance.

Districts should be proactive in ensuring that employee wages are not continuing to be garnished during this time. Please reach out to any of the Ennis Britton attorneys with any questions. For more information, visit

Additional Graduation Pathways for Class of 2018

House Bill 49, the budget bill, provides two additional pathways for graduation for the class of 2018. In short, the first option is an academic pathway, and the second is a career-tech pathway. (See also the Ennis Britton blog post on the new graduation requirements.)

Note: This applies only to the class of 2018, or as the bill states, to students who entered ninth grade for the first time on or after July 1, 2014, but prior to July 1, 2015.

Academic Pathway

In addition to meeting other graduation requirements as follows:

  • Take all end-of-course exams (or the private charter school assessment)
  • Retake at least once any end-of-course exam in English language arts or math on which the student scored lower than 3
  • Complete the required units of instruction

a student must meet two of the following requirements:

  • Have an attendance rate of at least 93 percent during 12th grade
  • Take at least four full-year or equivalent courses during 12th grade and has at least a 2.5 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) for the 12th-grade courses
  • Complete a capstone project during 12th grade
  • Complete 120 hours of work in a community service role or in a position of employment, including internships, work study, co-ops, and apprenticeships
  • Earn 3 or more transcripted credit hours under College Credit Plus at any time during high school
  • Pass an AP or IB course and receive a score of 3 or higher on the corresponding AP exam or 4 or higher on the corresponding IB exam at any time during high school
  • Earn at least a Level 3 score in each of the Reading for Information, Applied Mathematics, and Locating Information components of the job skills assessment, or a comparable score on similar components of a succeeding version of that assessment
  • Obtain an industry-recognized credential or a group of credentials equal to at least 3 points total
  • Satisfy the conditions required to receive the OhioMeansJobs-readiness seal

Career-Tech Pathway

In addition to meeting other requirements as follows:

  • Take all end-of-course exams (or the private charter school assessment)
  • Complete the required units of instruction
  • Complete an ODE-approved career-tech training program that includes at least four career-tech courses

a student must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Attain a cumulative score of at least proficient on required career-tech assessments or test modules
  • Obtain an industry-recognized credential or group of credentials worth 12 points
  • Demonstrate successful workplace participation, based on a written agreement signed by the student, a district representative, and an employer or supervisor, by completing 250 hours of workplace experience and receiving regular, written, positive evaluations from the employer or supervisor and a district representative