search
Sections List
American Journal News

Betsy DeVos blocks DACA recipients from emergency coronavirus relief grants

More than 400,000 students protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are ineligible for $6 billion in grants to help cover unexpected costs.

By Associated Press - April 23, 2020
Share
Betsy DeVos

The Trump administration is barring most international students and all students who entered the U.S. illegally from receiving emergency college grants approved by Congress as part of a $2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue package.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued the restriction in new guidelines released Tuesday telling colleges how to distribute more than $6 billion in grants meant to help students cover unexpected costs triggered by the pandemic. Earlier guidance from the Education Department suggested universities would have wide flexibility in distributing the grants, but the new guidelines said that only students who qualify for other federal student aid can receive the aid.

More than 400,000 students are estimated to have entered the U.S. illegally. More than 1 million international students are enrolled at U.S. colleges.

University leaders and immigration groups blasted the change, saying DeVos is imposing new limits that were not included in Congress’ legislation. The rescue package did not specify which students are eligible for grants, and many colleges had planned to distribute emergency grants to needy students regardless of their citizenship status.

Some prestigious universities cited the new policy in decisions to reject the funding. Princeton University announced Wednesday that it would refuse its $2.4 million share of coronavirus relief over the policy. Harvard University also cited the change in its decision to reject $8.7 million in aid.

The Education Department said its guidance is aligned with other federal laws. The agency cited the Higher Education Act, a sweeping law that says only U.S. citizens and a narrow set of “eligible noncitizens” are eligible for federal student aid. Angela Morabito, a department spokeswoman, said the rescue package legislation “makes clear that this taxpayer-funded relief fund should be targeted to U.S. citizens, which is consistently echoed throughout the law.”

But some higher education advocates challenged that claim. The American Council on Education, an association of college presidents, said the rescue package placed no limits on student eligibility.

“The statute says almost nothing about who is eligible to receive a grant. The Department of Education owns this decision. Period,” said Terry Hartle, the group’s senior vice president. He added that the group is disappointed by DeVos’ policy. “We strongly believed many of these students needed help.”

The guidelines have created confusion about exactly which students can receive the grants, Hartle said. It’s clear that the department is excluding immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally and international students, he said, but it’s unclear how schools should determine eligibility. Most colleges don’t ask students if they’re U.S. citizens, he said, and officials have no easy way to check.

“A college could give an emergency grant to a Dreamer without realizing the person is a Dreamer,” he said, referring to immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally but allowed to stay under the under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

At the University of California, Riverside, officials had been planning to award grants to some of the campus’ estimated 600 DACA recipients. Now, officials will turn to fundraising or other revenue sources to help students excluded by the Education Department.

Chancellor Kim Wilcox said he’s grateful for the federal relief but was disheartened by DeVos’ policy.

“I was disappointed for students here at UCR, for students across California, and I was disappointed for the nation,” Wilcox said. “This is a huge economic hit and there are pressing needs everywhere.”

Student advocates see DeVos’ update as a reversal from her previous guidance. When DeVos made the funding available in early April, she said colleges would be given flexibility in deciding how to award grants. She told colleges to focus on helping the neediest students. And in paperwork that colleges sign to receive the funding, the agency says the relief isn’t considered federal financial aid.

That earlier guidance led some schools to believe the grants were exempt from citizenship requirements.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University, said the new requirements are cruel to students who were counting on the grants to cover food, housing, and other costs, and to colleges that now have to scramble to revise plans for distributing the funding. Losing access to the grants will likely force some students to drop out, she said, especially those whose families are dealing with unemployment amid the pandemic.

“They’re not going to have the money that they need to stay connected to their college. And people who drop out of college often do not come back,” said Goldrick-Rab, who founded the nonprofit Hope Center for College, Community and Justice.

Critics say the policy is particularly unjust because the same students now barred from receiving grants were counted in the formula used to allocate money for schools. The rescue package provided $14 billion for the nation’s colleges, offering them varying sums based on their student enrollment and the percentage of students they teach from poorer backgrounds.

The United We Dream Network, which advocates for DACA recipients, said it was “callous” of DeVos to block so many students from access to funding. Sanaa Abrar, the group’s advocacy director, urged Congress and colleges to find other ways to help students excluded by DeVos’ directive.

“Every single relief package being discussed in Congress must include both the health care and financial assistance immigrant communities need,” Abrar said, “especially as the Trump administration continues to attack and scapegoat our communities amidst a pandemic.”


AJ News
Get the latest news here first.

Tai News

Newsletter
Read More
Abortion care and transgender health care are ‘parallel struggles’ in 2024 legislation

Abortion care and transgender health care are ‘parallel struggles’ in 2024 legislation

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - February 16, 2024
Jackson bill seeks to lower the price of insulin, ease access for nonprofit manufacturers

Jackson bill seeks to lower the price of insulin, ease access for nonprofit manufacturers

By Evan Popp, Maine Morning Star - February 14, 2024
Oregon lawmakers look for ways to curb prescription costs 

Oregon lawmakers look for ways to curb prescription costs 

By Ben Botkin, Oregon Capital Chronicle - February 12, 2024
Hispanic and teen fertility rates increase after abortion restrictions

Hispanic and teen fertility rates increase after abortion restrictions

By Eleanor Klibanoff, Texas Tribune - January 26, 2024
Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

By Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance - December 06, 2023
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - December 04, 2023
AJ News
Latest
Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

By Jesse Valentine - February 26, 2024
Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

By Jesse Valentine - February 09, 2024
Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

By Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 31, 2024
UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom - January 24, 2024
Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

By Jesse Valentine - January 17, 2024
A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

By Bonnie Fuller - January 10, 2024
Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - January 08, 2024
How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

By Jesse Valentine - January 05, 2024
NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

By Ethan DeWitt, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 04, 2024
Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

By Jesse Valentine - December 22, 2023
Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

By - December 15, 2023
Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

By Jesse Valentine - December 08, 2023
Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

By Jesse Valentine - December 07, 2023
Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

By Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance - December 06, 2023
105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

By Jesse Valentine - December 05, 2023
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - December 04, 2023
Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - November 30, 2023
Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

By Jesse Valentine - November 06, 2023
Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

By Jesse Valentine - November 03, 2023
Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

By Adam Ganucheau, Mississippi Today - October 24, 2023
Utah lawmakers want to repeal abortion clinic ban hoping it will speed up trigger law case

Utah lawmakers want to repeal abortion clinic ban hoping it will speed up trigger law case

By Katie McKellar, Utah News Dispatch - February 27, 2024
Republican Bernie Moreno opposes existence of minimum wage

Republican Bernie Moreno opposes existence of minimum wage

By Jesse Valentine - February 23, 2024
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott floats building a wall on the Oklahoma border

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott floats building a wall on the Oklahoma border

By Jesse Valentine - February 22, 2024
More than 48,600 18-year-olds are registered to vote in Ohio, a 35% increase from late August

More than 48,600 18-year-olds are registered to vote in Ohio, a 35% increase from late August

By Megan Henry, Ohio Capital Journal - February 22, 2024
Not if, but when: Parents of slain Parkland students urge Utah lawmakers to pass school safety bill

Not if, but when: Parents of slain Parkland students urge Utah lawmakers to pass school safety bill

By Kyle Dunphey, Utah News Dispatch - February 21, 2024