The Biden administration is overturning a policy that barred undocumented college students from receiving federal relief grants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Education Department announced that it will distribute $36 billion in federal relief funding to higher education. Colleges and universities will have to decide how to distribute the funding to students, although the law requires that schools have to consider students that have exceptional financial needs.
“The pandemic didn’t discriminate which students got Covid, so the final rule does allow for all students” to access the funding, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told reporters. The goal, he said, was to “make sure that all students have an opportunity to have access to the funds to help them get back on track.”
Schools must use a portion of the funds to tell financial aid applicants that they may be eligible for a financial aid award adjustment if they or a member of their family loses their jobs.
“It is really designed primarily to support institutions and their students, and efforts to retain those students and support them as they move through the pandemic, and to reengage students to help them stay connected to the campus community,” Michelle Asha Cooper, acting assistant secretary of postsecondary education, said.
The Education Department said that $10 billion will be distributed to support community colleges, $2.6 billion will go to historically black colleges and universities, $190 million will go to tribal colleges, and $6 billion is for other types of minority-serving institutions.