Swalwell Leads 72 Members in Sending Letter to Sec. DeVos Urging Quick Release of Emergency Grants to All Students, including DACA Recipients

April 27, 2020
Press Release

Washington D.C. — Today, Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) led 72 of his House colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos regarding the delayed disbursement of Economic Financial Aid Grants to students under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The letter also asked the Department to reconsider the restrictive guidelines it issued in respect to the use of those funds and who is eligible to collect them.

“More than three weeks ago, the Department of Education announced $6 billion was available to immediately assist students who needed urgent relief,” said Swalwell. “However, as of April 20, only $6 million of that funding had been disbursed to colleges and universities, leaving thousands of students across the country to continue struggling with unforeseen expenses caused by the coronavirus outbreak. People are hurting now and this unexplained delay is not only unacceptable, it is unconscionable given the circumstances.”

Many colleges and universities initially experienced technical difficulties with the application, in addition to confusion over what the funds could be used for. The Department of Education has still provided no explanation as to why so little money has been dispensed over the course of the last three weeks.

Recently, the Department issued severely-delayed guidance on the use of these funds that is already in need of updating. The guidelines restrict funds to those students who have applied for or could apply for financial aid under Section 484 of the Higher Education Act. This excludes DACA recipients, international students, and students in basic adult education and dual enrollment courses who do not have a high school diploma.

The coronavirus pandemic has touched every corner of our nation and affects everyone, regardless of race, nationality, religion or socioeconomic status. The Department of Education’s narrow guidance goes directly against the broad language of the CARES Act, which was put forth with the specific intent of helping as many people as possible. 

Swalwell and his colleagues requested that the Department immediately focus on distributing these emergency financial aid grants as quickly and efficiently as possible, as well as updating the guidance surrounding the grants so that all students have access to this vital aid.

The full text of the letter is available here.