California Community Colleges sue over CARES Act restrictions

The San Diego Community College District is included in the lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education


California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, pictured in an undated photo, has filed an injunction against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Office of the Attorney General photo

Sonny Garibay, Editor-at-Large

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed an injunction against U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday, on behalf of the California Community Colleges, to reverse a Department of Education decision to limit recently issued Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds to students eligible for federal student aid.

The Education Department’s direction excludes Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals recipients and other non-citizens as well as veterans who have not applied for FAFSA and some students with disabilities.

Link: View the complaint here.


“The Department of Education ignored the intent of the CARES Act to give local colleges discretion to aid students most affected by the pandemic, and instead has arbitrarily excluded as many as 800,000 community college students,” California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz said in a statement.

The San Diego Community College District is included in the lawsuit, according to a press release from California Community Colleges. This was confirmed by the district on Twitter.

“The San Diego CCD Believes that all students are worthy of support,” SDCCD Chancellor Constance Carroll wrote in a tweet. “We are proud to be part of the lawsuit against the U.S. Dept. Education because of its exclusion of categories of students due to political considerations.”

California Community Colleges argue that the limitations set by the department are unlawful because Congress did not impose them when passing the CARES Act.

The restrictions would likely worsen an expected drop in enrollment in colleges across the country due to the coronavirus.

The National College Attainment Network analysis of federal student aid reported an 8% drop in the number of FAFSA forms filed by low-income students for the 2020-2021 school year from the year prior, possibly indicating that some low-income students do not plan to return to school.