Betsy DeVos tells colleges not to give coronavirus aid to illegal immigrants
- Department of Education officials issued guidance saying that illegal immigrant students were not the intended recipients of money from the coronavirus stimulus.
- Colleges and universities received $14 billion from the stimulus and will direct part of the funding to students.
- Questions previously arose on whether illegal immigrants were eligible for aid.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued guidance Tuesday reminding colleges that financial assistance provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was never intended for illegal immigrant students.
As reported by Politico, the rule states that only students who qualify for federal financial aid, which includes U.S. citizens and some legal immigrants, are eligible for the more than $6 billion in emergency aid funding intended to go directly to students impacted by the pandemic. The $6 billion is part of the more than $14 billion Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which is part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act.
Guidelines published on the Department of Education website further explain that eligible students include those who have submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or students who have not filed FAFSAs but are eligible. The CARES Act allocated $14 billion for higher education institutions, $6 billion of which must go directly to students to help with expenses associated with campus closures.
Colleges and universities had previously inquired about whether the funding could be used for illegal immigrant students, which include students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.
DACA advocates estimate there could be as many as 160,000 DACA students enrolled in higher education. Another recent report by New American Economy claimed there are approximately a total of 450,000 illegal immigrant students enrolled in higher education.
In a statement, Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill said the CARES Act is clearly for American citizens.
“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,” Hill said.