Jonathan Helwink

Jonathan Helwink Associate

Save current page as PDF

Jonathan focuses his practice on representing institutions and individuals in government investigations and ensuring institutional compliance with federal agency rules and regulations. He has assisted institutions in U.S. Department of Education matters regarding: Title IV student aid, accreditation, change of ownership transactions, agency enforcement matters, as well as on issues regarding Title IX, the Clery Act, and campus safety.

Jonathan’s unique perspective comes from his time spent in government, in private practice, and as a teacher. Prior to pursuing law, Jonathan was a tenured history professor at a community college in Chicago. During his time at the college, Jonathan served in many roles, including committee chairperson, Department co-chairperson, student group advisor, and student honors society coordinator. After attending law school, Jonathan joined a higher education practice focusing on Title IV, Title IX, and institutional staff training.

Jonathan also served as the Attorney Advisor to the Under Secretary of Education and Special Counsel at the U.S. Department of Education, where he focused on advising senior leadership on accreditation matters; driving policy positions on Title IV; writing the Department’s 2020 Clery Act Appendix; and co-authoring the 2019 Gainful Employment Rule rescission and the 2019 Borrower Defense to Repayment regulations.

Prior to joining McGuireWoods, Jonathan was an associate focusing on higher education matters at a national law firm.


  • Resolved matter in favor of institution facing a federal agency investigation regarding disability discrimination.
  • Responded to multiple federal agency investigations into regulatory noncompliance that carried the potential for civil and criminal penalties.
  • Recognized expert on borrower defense to repayment regulations, including federal agency and institutional response procedures.
  • Conducted an internal investigation of high-profile discrimination allegations regarding Title IX matters at a large public school district.
  • Performed FERPA reviews of reports regarding a student incident at a public research institution.
  • Managed due diligence efforts and drafted purchase agreements for multiple transactions.
  • Developed litigation strategies for institutions challenging federal agency action.
  • Drafted hundreds of responses to borrower defense to repayment claims.
  • Wrote a number of significant public comment submissions challenging a federal agency’s proposed regulatory changes.
  • Presents and publishes regularly on institutional compliance, federal agency rulemaking, accreditation issues, and grant program compliance.