international students in the US
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks during a roundtable session about reducing childhood poverty with Vice President Kamala Harris at the Boys and Girls Club of New Haven on March 26, 2021 in New Haven, Connecticut. Harris is traveling to New Haven, Connecticut to promote the Biden administration's recently passed $1.9 billion federal stimulus package. Source: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

Great news for international students in the US: Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has lifted the ban preventing this group from accessing pandemic relief grants.

Undocumented and international students in the US may now receive aid for housing, employment, and food insecurities. Under the previous ruling, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos determined that only those in federal student aid programmes may receive money. The decision was based on a 1996 welfare reform law, which exempts these groups from public aid.

“The pandemic didn’t discriminate … and we want to make sure that all students have an opportunity to have access to funds to help them get back on track,” Cardona said. “What this does is really simplify the definition of a student. It makes it easier for colleges to administer the programme and get the money in the hands of students sooner.”

international students in the US

International students were previously left out of federal pandemic aid in the US. Source: Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

Stimulus cheques for international students in the US

Since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme was reinstated by the Biden administration, international students in the US are holding out for change. Many will breathe a sigh of relief at the final rule issued Tuesday, which allows more students to benefit from the US$76 billion pledged by the federal government. According to the Education Department, this new rule qualifies all students enrolled in college during the pandemic for three stimulus cheques.

Many are applauding the move, including Senator Patty Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. “Every student struggling because of this pandemic deserves access to emergency aid that can make all the difference. After so many months of pushing back against the previous administration, I’m so relieved that Secretary Cardona took this important step,” she commented.

“Denying emergency grants to DACA and undocumented students wasn’t just legally questionable, it was a moral failing, and I’m relieved to see this finally corrected,” Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators concurred. This move also provides relief to colleges and universities which have been helping undocumented and international students in the US with their own institutional funds, The Washington Post writes.