Education Secretary Betsy DeVos blocked students in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program from receiving emergency grant aid as part of the CARES Act Monday.
According to Forbes, the CARES Act allocated $14 billion to colleges and universities to address the unique impact the virus has had on college campuses. Half of the funds must be in the form of emergency grant aid directly to students to address living expenses such as housing, food, healthcare, and more.
Universities and colleges were waiting for DeVos to release guidance to detail how exactly schools could allocate the grant money, including who is eligible. In the guidance, released Monday, DeVos limited the students eligible for the grant aid to those who are only also eligible for federal student financial aid.
That means undocumented immigrants participating in the DACA program are not eligible to receive funds.
“The CARES Act makes clear that this taxpayer funded relief fund should be targeted to U.S. citizens, which is consistently echoed throughout this law,” an Education Department spokesperson said Monday.
The aid, however, is not considered normal student aid—something DeVos acknowledged by excluding it from the 90-10 rule, which limits the share of federal student aid dollars that make up for-profit colleges’ revenues. Additionally, DACA students are taxpayers themselves and the CARES Act does not prohibit DACA students from receiving the emergency aid.
The financial impact of coronavirus may affect students in the DACA program harder than others. Students in the DACA program, most of which are Hispanic, may be forced to get jobs to hold them over or to help their family.
According to a JPMorgan Chase Institute study, for every $1 lost in income, African American families cut spending by $0.46 and Hispanic families cut spending by $0.43. Additionally, many Hispanic families are already dealing with the reality of lower-paying jobs and a lower likelihood of working from home than white families.