By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Staff Reporter
The Department of Education (ED) in a recent legal document filed to a federal appeals court formally gave notice that it intends to appeal a California judge’s ruling, which blocked the department’s guidance and interim final rule on distributing emergency grant funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers’ order from June came on the heels of another ruling from a federal judge who sided with Washington state's attorney general Bob Ferguson, and blocked ED’s CARES Act guidance restricting emergency grant eligibility to Title IV-eligible students from being carried out in Washington state.
The underlying lawsuit that ED now intends to appeal only applies to community colleges in the state of California, and notably goes a step further than the Washington case in that it blocks the portion of ED’s policy that would prevent international students, those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and those living in the country illegally from accessing the funds.
While the department continues to contest implementation of the CARES Act and maintains that it was congressional intent for the funds to exclude noncitizens, Congress has reached a stalemate for providing additional aid — that could result in additional funding for the department to allocate to students and institutions of higher education — with proposals from Senate Republicans and House Democrats still at odds.
Since Congress is currently on an amended August recess and has not completed its annual appropriations process — the Senate has yet to unveil a single proposal — the government will also have to avert a fiscal cliff before the end of September, and in doing so could tack budget proposals into additional coronavirus aid should these negotiations continue to bleed into the coming weeks.
Publication Date: 8/18/2020
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