In a bid to help over 5,000 HEIs in the US, the US Department of Education has announced emergency grants worth more than $36 billion for postsecondary education, which have been opened for international students for the first time.
These grants will double the emergency relief aid already available to students and institutions under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) relief legislation and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).
Miguel Cardona, US Secretary of Education, said these funds will ensure that those students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will have the opportunity to apply, continue their studies, graduate and find jobs.
This action will allow thousands of US institutions to provide direct relief to most-affected students, which will help them recover from the pandemic and go back to normalcy.
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These funds can also be used for initiatives to retain and reengage students through mental health and virtual projects. However, half of the projects should be aimed at providing direct relief to not just international students but also DACA residents and US students who want to study abroad.
The department said that priority while allocating this funding will, however, be given to domestic students especially at the undergraduate level.
Executive director of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, Miriam Feldblum said that the updated guidance to include international students regardless of their immigration status is 'welcomed news'.
Deputy executive director, public policy at NAFSA, Jill Allen Murray applauded the Biden administration for letting all students have access to these funds based not on their country of origin but on their financial need.
Justin Drager, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, pointed out that denying these grants to DACA and undocumented students was both 'legally questionable' and a 'moral failing'.