The Trump administration is barring undocumented students from receiving emergency college grants amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package President Donald Trump signed last month included more than $6 billion for colleges to help students affected by campus closures. But new guidance issued by the Department of Education on Tuesday says that only students who are eligible for federal financial aid can receive any of those relief funds. That means that undocumented students, including those known as "dreamers" who are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, would be ineligible for the emergency assistance, as they are already barred from receiving most types of federal aid.
Critics said the virus-related relief legislation did not explicitly say which students could receive the grants, and that the funding isn't supposed to be considered federal financial aid. They also pointed to a letter that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had written weeks ago that said schools would have "significant discretion on how to award this emergency assistance to students."
The Education Department defended its decision, saying the legislation "makes clear that this taxpayer-funded relief fund should be targeted to U.S. citizens, which is consistently echoed throughout the law."