• This page, AG Healey Applauds Biden Administration’s Reversal of Trump Era Rule Blocking Vulnerable Students From Accessing Cares Act Relief , is   offered by
  • Office of the Attorney General
Press Release

Press Release  AG Healey Applauds Biden Administration’s Reversal of Trump Era Rule Blocking Vulnerable Students From Accessing Cares Act Relief

AG’s Office Dismisses Lawsuit Against U.S. Department of Education Over Illegal Rule Barring the Use of the Emergency Funds for Students Most in Need
For immediate release:
  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey

Media Contact   for AG Healey Applauds Biden Administration’s Reversal of Trump Era Rule Blocking Vulnerable Students From Accessing Cares Act Relief

Chloe Gotsis

BOSTONMassachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced today that she has dismissed her lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) over a Trump Administration rule preventing colleges and universities from providing CARES Act funds to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grantees, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, and academically struggling students, following the Biden Administration’s issuance of a final rule reversing the prior administration’s illegal policy.

“The pandemic left thousands of students and their families struggling to put food on the table, pay their rent and access health care,” AG Healey said. “By issuing this discriminatory rule, the Trump Administration sought to exclude tens of thousands of Massachusetts students from accessing financial assistance they needed to survive. We are grateful to the Biden Administration for reversing this illegal policy and ensuring that our most vulnerable students can access these critical funds.”

The joint stipulation of dismissal without prejudice, filed Wednesday in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, ends an August 2020 lawsuit the AG’s Office filed against DOE that alleged the Trump-era rule deprived Massachusetts colleges and universities of the flexibility Congress granted them in the CARES Act by restricting eligibility for access to emergency relief grants. Specifically, the policy excluded students who are ineligible for non-emergency federal financial aid, including those who are undocumented, DACA grantees or TPS recipients, asylum applicants, attending school on an international student visa, owe a refund on a federal loan or grant, pursuing their GED while enrolled in college or university, or have not maintained satisfactory standing after two years of study.

In September, the AG’s Office obtained a preliminary injunction blocking the Trump Administration from imposing the rule on colleges and universities in Massachusetts and on students attending those schools. The Biden Administration’s final rule will allow Massachusetts institutions to continue to distribute funds to any enrolled student who needs them.

“All 75,000 UMass students are deserving of help, based on financial need, to pursue their dream of a college education,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “We applaud the Biden Administration’s reversal of the previous administration’s rule that would have forced deserving students to delay or end their college education in the middle of the pandemic and ultimately deprived the Massachusetts workforce of a valuable and diverse source of talent. We greatly appreciate Attorney General Healey’s defense of our mission to keep high quality higher education opportunities accessible to all.”

“When the Trump Administration imposed its restrictive rule, we were proud of Attorney General Healey’s leadership to move quickly to protect Massachusetts college students,” said Dave Koffman of the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges (MACC). “We greatly appreciate that the Biden Administration reversed this rule across the country, which will ensure that all students are eligible to receive these necessary emergency relief funds provided by Congress. This funding will continue to support many community college students through their education and on their way to successful careers in Massachusetts.”

“My colleagues and I applaud the decision by the Biden Administration to reverse the Trump Administration’s illegal and ill-informed policy,” said James F. Birge, President of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Chair of the Massachusetts State Universities Council of Presidents. “The Massachusetts State Universities have a mission of access and support for our students and we are grateful for AG Healey’s leadership to bring pressure on any Department of Education policy that discounts our mission to provide a high quality, public education for all of our student.”

“This action by the Biden Administration affirms what a federal court judge ruled last year,” said Iris Gomez, Senior Attorney with the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. “Now, students from across the country, like the brave Haitian TPS college student who first challenged the discriminatory Trump era rule in Massachusetts, can be assured that they will have access to COVID emergency funds they need regardless of immigration status.”

The CARES Act, signed into law in March 2020, appropriated more than $30 billion to DOE to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including about $14.3 billion to higher education institutions. Under the CARES Act, colleges and universities must use at least half those funds for emergency grants to students to help with expenses related to the disruption of campus operations, such as food, housing, and health care costs. The Act contained no restrictions on eligibility for these student grants or on higher education institutions’ authority to determine how to distribute grants to their students. Congress appropriated additional funding to higher education institutions to make emergency grants to students in December 2020 and in March 2021, and funds remain available to any Massachusetts students struggling to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

This matter is being handled by Division Chief Abby Taylor, and Assistant Attorneys General Jon Burke, Abby Eshghi, and David Ureña, all of the AG’s Civil Rights Division.


Media Contact   for AG Healey Applauds Biden Administration’s Reversal of Trump Era Rule Blocking Vulnerable Students From Accessing Cares Act Relief

  • Office of the Attorney General 

    Attorney General Maura Healey is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • Help Us Improve Mass.gov  with your feedback

    Please do not include personal or contact information.