After a series of shoves universities say they have confused the distribution of grants emergency aid to help students deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the Education Department finally issued an interim formal rule saying undocumented students and millions of other people who are not eligible for regular student aid can not be helped.

In part, the department said it took the position for fear that if schools were able to provide scholarships to all students who wished, could create false classes and programs and the use of subsidies to attract students to the platform of enrollment and revenue.

critics such as the American Council of Education, however, said they suspect the Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wanted to limit who can get subsidies as a way to exclude undocumented immigrants and international students. And indeed, in a statement, the department said the rule "helps ensure financed by taxpayers' money coronavirus aid is distributed properly and will not aliens, non-citizens and students who may be enrolled in programs education not eligible. "

subsidies that have been delivered are not subject to the restriction, said the rule, which was quickly criticized by higher education institutions and advocacy groups. The standard will become effective upon publication in the Federal Register, which could happen at any time.

The issue of the standard, however, does not end the confusion about what college students can obtain grants, which are intended to help pay for necessities like food and rent.

is expected that federal judges in California and Washington to the rule, also any day, demands for mandates to keep the department running its interpretation that can help.

community college system and the California Attorney Washington State generally as much to discuss with different costumes DeVos is violating congressional intent by limiting who is eligible to get about $ 6 billion Congress created in grants in the CARES Act coronavirus relief package in March. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who chairs the California case, appeared to be sympathetic to the arguments of community colleges during a hearing on Tuesday.

The rule is the latest chapter in what has been a dizzying series of statements from the Department of Education has confused about which schools could provide subsidies and hindered the money to be distributed. California community colleges, for example, said they have kept millions of dollar reserves they have received subsidies until the dispute is decided.

After DeVos said initially schools have wide discretion over who should receive subsidies, the department said in a document of frequently asked questions on its website that only those who are eligible for help regulate student could receive . That excluded not only undocumented students, but veterans who rely on the GI Bill instead of regular help students go to college as well as millions of others who have not filled out the financial aid forms.

Then three weeks ago, the department announced its previous guidance is not legally binding, since argued that the claims should be dismissed. But on Monday, the normative documents of the Department filed indicated that the interim rule on Tuesday, only to have the department suddenly pull back, saying it would be at the least a week before they would issue the rule is issued. Two days later, the department issued the evening of Thursday afternoon, shortly before it began a hearing on the request for Washington.

At the heart of the debate is what to do with the fact that Congress did not define the term "student" in the Act CARES.

The department said the rule references in other parts of the stimulus bill to the Law principal sections of higher education in the nation governing the granting regular financial aid. It was recognized that the Act does not explicitly care emergency grants could only go to those who qualify for regular aid, but has the power to interpret the ambiguity in the law. The department also noted that the law does not explicitly say CARES grants are not subject to a prohibition created by the Clinton administration in the illegal immigrants who get federal aid.

However, Democrats in the Senate, advocacy groups and demands argued that he did not define students, Congress intended to give broad colleges discretion in providing scholarships, including undocumented students.

Senator Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Education Committee of the Senate, criticized the rule. "As students across the country are struggling to make ends meet, given unprecedented financial challenges, efforts Secretary DeVos' to deny some much needed help is cruel," he said in a statement. "These requirements extreme eligibility will not only harm students, but also contrary to the intent of Congress will continue to fight to ensure that students receive the relief they need - .. And the DeVos Secretary implements the law as Congress intends "

Potential abuse?

The department rule also argued that the distribution of the Fund Emergency Aid Higher Education Grants based on a standard set to benefit from the help of a regular student would make it easier for schools to quickly hand the money.

However, the department also said he had no concern. "The potential for waste, fraud and abuse is significant when higher education institutions are given the opportunity to make fast cash prizes to students," said the rule, especially when they are worried schools for loss money and students during the pandemic.

"If a broad definition of 'student' is used for purposes of grants emergency financial assistance to students, institutions unscrupulous could create economic classes and programming that offers little or no educational value and then use HEERF grant funding to encourage individuals not qualified under title IV to register as paying students in those classes and programs, which are eligible for a grant, "the department said in the rule.

among those excluded from subsidies are students with low grades, because they can not receive other federal student aid. The department said that universities could provide emergency grants to encourage students with bad grades to re-enroll, "for the purpose of raising revenue through such students pay tuition."

Laying out other scenarios, the department also said that universities could use the funds "for students who are enrolled in the institution, but they do not intend to receive a degree or certificate, thus diverting funds students who are pursuing a degree or certificate. "

It is not surprising that the government of the department reflect their earlier views, said Daniel Madzelan, the American Council of Education assistant vice president of government relations and public affairs.

"But that does not mean we're not too disappointed that basically is ignoring the department about eight million students and their needs," he said, mocking fears colleges use subsidies as una'máquina to make money. '

Congress, according to Madzelan, had said, "We are confident in their schools and univer ties. The department is saying, 'We do not trust you.' "

Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, called the departamento'débil reasoning '.

"If ED was so worried about fraud, waste and abuse, why give money to schools and then urge them to get money quickly, before issuing any guidance or regulation of student eligibility? " he said. "ED made it clear from the start that emergency grants could not be applied to outstanding balances in an institution, so there is little chance that schools just keep the money for themselves."

Ben Miller, vice president for higher education at the Center for American Progress progressive, also criticized the rule.

"Even if it was called political right (which was not unequivocally) who is helping publish a rule two months after schools could start applying for funds?" He said by email. "All this does is create confusion and potentially delay getting money into the hands of students."

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