Federal emergency student grants provided by the CARES Act will no longer be limited to students who receive Title IV aid, the Department of Education announced late on Thursday. The department still refuses to open grant eligibility to international and undocumented students as well as those enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“Limiting the aid to Title IV students was the department’s way of ensuring this money didn’t go to undocumented or DACA students, but by doing that, they excluded a whole other group that isn’t receiving Title IV aid,” says Erin Powers, director of marketing and communications for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
The department’s updated statement comes after California Community Colleges System and Washington’s attorney general filed lawsuits against the department for allegedly excluding otherwise eligible students from aid.
Originally, the department gave higher ed institutions flexibility on how to distribute funding but, on April 21, added the Title IV restriction, which cut out U.S. citizens who haven’t registered with Selective Service or have a prior drug conviction, for example. Many schools have already distributed funds that are limited to students with Title IV eligibility.
“This recent announcement gives me hope that the department might not enforce Title IV eligibility in the fourth bill,” says Powers, “so even though many schools have already allocated student aid based on these restrictions, hopefully, moving forward, there will be an opportunity to provide supports for students who are not just Title IV eligible.”
For more coronavirus coverage, click here.