NASFAA Mention: Ed Dept Backs Off CARES Grant Eligibility Guidance — Sort Of

"The U.S. Department of Education says it will not enforce previous guidance limiting which students can receive federal emergency grants through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It made the announcement Thursday evening in an update to its website," Education Dive reports.

"But it's unclear by how much the decision widens the pool of students who qualify for the money, financial aid experts say. The department's update says its guidance is not legally binding — a nod to an executive order issued last year. Instead, it points to a section of the U.S. Code that prevents certain immigrants and non-U.S. residents, including unauthorized and international students, from receiving public support.

... Limiting grants to Title IV-eligible students 'was a way for them to exclude undocumented, DACA and international students without expressly saying so, and now here we are at a point where that is what they are doing,' said Megan Coval, vice president for policy and federal relations at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

Whether the update widens the pool of students who can receive the grants is another question. The guidance released on April 21 states that grant-eligible students are those who meet the requirements in Section 484 of Title IV of the Higher Education Act. That includes being a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen with a social security number and having a statement of educational purpose on file with the department. That statement of purpose is, effectively, a FASFA form, said ACE's Madzelan.

However, the guidance also says students who haven't filed a FAFSA but meet the requirements to complete one can still get emergency grants. That inconsistency could open the guidance up to different interpretations — one of which could leave out students who qualify for federal financial aid.

Coval said her team is still working out who qualifies for funding under the latest update."

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Publication Date: 5/26/2020

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