DeVos blocks undocumented college students from receiving emergency aid amid pandemic

Greg Nash

The Trump administration issued new guidance Tuesday barring undocumented college students from receiving federal aid to pay off certain expenses.

Congress allocated $6 billion in its economic rescue package to colleges to grant to students to cover expenses related to interruptions fueled by the coronavirus pandemic. The money is intended to help students pay for expenses such as food, childcare and housing. 

However, the Education Department issued new guidance mandating that the money can only be given to students who qualify for federal financial aid, meaning U.S. citizens and some legal permanent residents.

While Congress’s package contains no language regarding undocumented students, the Education Department’s guidance essentially prevents them from receiving any of the allocated funds.

The policy specifically prevents undocumented immigrants from obtaining the funds by mandating that in order to get the money under the package, students must be eligible to file or have filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is not available to those in the country illegally.

The guidance will impact hundreds of thousands of students who are protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides work authorizations and protection from deportations for people who were brought to the country illegally as minors.

The Education Department defended its guidance, saying it is merely following the law.

“The CARES Act makes clear that this taxpayer funded relief fund should be targeted to U.S. citizens, which is consistently echoed throughout the law,” Education Department spokesperson Angela Morabito said in a statement to The Hill.


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