U.S. Department of Education Issues Rule to Protect American Taxpayers from Waste, Fraud, and Abuse, Ensure COVID-19 Relief Funds Get to Eligible Students

us department of education
Non-citizens, students enrolled in ineligible education programs will not receive taxpayer funds

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Education released a rule for public comment this week that would help to ensure taxpayer-funded coronavirus relief money is distributed properly and does not go to foreign nationals, non-citizens, and students who may be enrolled in ineligible education programs.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act establishes the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and requires that at least 50% of that funding be allocated to students for emergency cash grants for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus, including technology, course materials, food, health care, and child care. The interim final rule (IFR) will provide certainty for institutions of higher education regarding which students are eligible to receive this emergency funding.

“It’s clear the CARES Act was written to help Americans recover from the coronavirus pandemic,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “U.S. taxpayers have long supported U.S. students pursuing higher education, and this rule simply ensures the continuity of that well-established policy. As I’ve said since the law passed, my first goal was to get these funds to eligible students in need as quickly as possible. Today’s action helps erase any uncertainty some institutions have expressed and helps make sure we can support America’s students facing the greatest needs. We have a responsibility to taxpayers to administer the CARES Act faithfully, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

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By aligning student eligibility requirements for emergency financial aid grants under the CARES Act with Title IV eligibility, which dictates which students can receive taxpayer-subsidized student loans or grants, foreign nationals and most other non-citizens would not be eligible, as well as those who: (1) are dual-enrolled in secondary school; (2) do not meet academic progress standards; (3) are in default on a federal student loan or owe any refund relating to a federal student grant; (4) are without a high school diploma, GED certification, or recognized equivalent or exception; or (5) are in programs that are not Title IV-eligible programs.

The IFR is available to view here. The IFR will be published in the Federal Register on Monday, June 15 and will be open for public comment for 30 days.

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