Chairman Scott Condemns Secretary DeVos for Robbing Vulnerable Students of Emergency Aid
WASHINGTON – In a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) expressed deep concern about the Department’s attempts to prevent millions of students from getting the emergency relief Congress provided under the CARES Act.
The CARES Act, passed on March 27, allocated more than $14 billion in emergency aid to institutions, half of which was intended to provide direct emergency financial aid to students. On April 21, the Department released guidance establishing arbitrary and unauthorized restrictions that target some of the most vulnerable students, including those who have defaulted on federal loans, undocumented students, and other groups of students who are among the most likely to need help.
In addition to restricting access to aid for vulnerable students, the Department’s guidance shifted on more than one occasion, forcing institutions to delay the distribution of emergency funds.
“Congress recognized that COVID-19 would disproportionately impact students currently enrolled at institutions and required institutions to use at least 50 percent of allocated Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) funds ‘to provide emergency financial aid grants to students.’ Congress intended these funds to expediently flow to students, but the Department’s implementation of the CARES Act has frustrated this goal,” wrote Chairman Scott. “Without impugning motive, it is impossible to ignore the fact that these interpretations are consistent with the publicly espoused political positions of the Department.”
In a survey conducted by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, 92 percent of financial aid administrators indicated that the Department’s confusing guidance delayed institutions’ ability to disburse emergency grants to students.
On Friday, Eastern District of Washington Judge Thomas O. Rice blocked the Department from carrying out in Washington state their policy barring colleges from giving emergency federal aid to students who do not qualify for federal financial aid.
To read the full text of the letter, click here.
Democratic Press Office, 202-226-0853
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