CALIFORNIA— Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is being sued by the Chancellor of California Community Colleges  after restrictions for CARES Act grants were placed, including the exclusion of DACA recipients and other undocumented students. 

The CARES Act was passed by Congress in March in which it provides $14 billion to higher education in a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). DeVos was required to allocate approximately $12.6 billion of that money to institutions using a formula provided to her by Congress. When institutions are provided that money, they are expected to provide their students with half of it as an emergency grant type of aid, and can spend the other half however they wish.

Some restrictions were placed on which students were eligible to receive the funds, excluding students who were solely online students, and limiting aid for part-time students, providing more to those who were full-time. However, DeVos is said to have provided guidance to institutions on how to distribute the money, adding the exclusion of any student eligible for federal Title IV student financial aid, ultimately excluding DACA recipients and other undocumented students.

The lawsuit was then filed against DeVos and the Department of Education on May 11 by Eloy Ortiz Oakley, the Chancellor of California Community Colleges. The lawsuit claims the Secretary is “arbitrarily placing eligibility restrictions on emergency relief funds” resulting in the exclusion of “thousands of students, including undocumented students, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, and many students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.”

Due to these restrictions, many institutions will be placed in a tough position on how ti determine which students should receive the money.