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Biden's Education Secretary allows undocumented college students to access stimulus funds

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Advocates for immigrants with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, rally in front of the Supreme Court June 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Education Sec. Miguel Cardona said undocumented and international students can now receive stimulus aid.

  • This lifts a Trump-era policy that banned those students from receiving emergency aid.

  • The top Republican on House Education called it an insult while Senate Education's top Democrat is relieved.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package included nearly $36 billion in emergency funding for struggling students, but international and undocumented students were ineligible to receive that aid - until now.

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona just eliminated that rule.

"The pandemic didn't discriminate on students," Cardona said in a press call on Monday. "We know that the final rule will include all students, and we want to make sure that all students have an opportunity to have access to funds to help get them back on track."

On Tuesday, the Biden administration issued a final rule that revised a Trump-era policy barring international and undocumented students from accessing emergency aid. In June, Trump's Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had issued a rule stating only those who participate in federal student aid programs can receive stimulus money that shut out undocumented and international students, including those protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, also known as "Dreamers."

DeVos' rule also initially barred students who defaulted on student loans and those convicted of minor drug crimes from receiving aid, but that was lifted in January.

Cardona said during the call that the final rule will apply to all three rounds of stimulus funding and will ensure every student who needs it can access aid.

"What this does is really simplify the definition of a student," Cardona said. "It makes it easier for colleges to administer the program and get the money in the hands of students sooner."

DeVos' policy met a number of legal challenges, including an ongoing lawsuit initiated by California Community Colleges that said they have kept millions of dollars received for grants because of DeVos' limits on who is eligible to receive them.

Rep. Virginia Foxx - the top Republican on the House Education Committee - called it "an insult to every American."

"President Biden is fueling an immigration crisis, and this final rule exacerbates the emergency at the southern border," Foxx said in a statement. "I call on elected Democrats to stop swindling law-abiding citizens, put Americans first, and respect the sacrifice of hardworking taxpayers."

But Chair of the Senate Education Committee Patty Murray said in a statement she was "relieved" Cardona took this step to give every struggling student needed aid.

Separately, the Education Department said in a Tuesday press release that it is now making available $36 billion in grants that will help over 5,000 institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled College or University, and Hispanic Serving Institutions.

"These funds are critical to ensuring that all of our nation's students - particularly those disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic - have the opportunity to enroll, continue their education, graduate, and pursue their careers," Cardona said in a statement. "With this action, thousands of institutions will be able to provide direct relief to students who need it most, so we can make sure that we not only recover from the pandemic, but also build back even stronger than before."

Read the original article on Business Insider