Colorado State gives $1,500 checks to undocumented students despite $100M budget shortfall

DENVER — Colorado State University, which is anticipating a $100 million revenue hit from the shutdown, is handing out $1,500 checks to illegal immigrants to help support them during the novel coronavirus crisis.

CSU spokesman Mike Hooker said that 218 undocumented students have received $1,500 checks–totaling $327,000–from “state, institutional, and private sources,” not the federal CARES Act, which under Education Department guidelines prohibits such assistance to those in the country illegally.

“In that overall mix of support, the CARES Act Emergency Aid has been a critical source of funding for many students at CSU, with more than $5 million going to more than 4,200 students to date,” said Mr. Hooker in an email. “Unfortunately, some of our students do not qualify for CARES Act aid.”

Word of the CSU fund, reported last week by the Boulder Daily Camera, prompted a White House petition calling for federal action against the university.

“[T]his is more than some hard working Americans received,” said the petition. “We are calling for the Department of Education to revoke the institution’s Federal School Code for the duration of 1 year until the school’s administrators and faculty stop serving as accomplices in immigration-related crimes.”

Critics pointed out that the undocumented students have received more than eligible U.S. citizens under the CARES Act, which delivers $1,200 checks to adults earning less than $99,000 annually, and $500 per child.

Mr. Hooker said that about 600 students have received “varying levels of aid outside of CARES funds,” and that the 218 undocumented students met the qualifications of the state’s ASSET bill, which offers financial aid to those who otherwise meet the criteria for in-state tuition.

“Colorado State University is accessing state, institutional, and private funding sources to help meet their needs as well,” said Mr. Hooker. “These populations include our international and undocumented students, as well as students who, for a variety of reasons, no longer qualify for federal student aid.”

He added that “Colorado State University is committed to supporting all of our students during this very challenging time.”

CSU President Joyce McConnell said earlier this month that the three-campus system is expected to lose $105.5 million under the most likely financial projections as a result of the pandemic shutdown, which will require budget cuts “beyond anything we have ever experienced,” according to the Coloradoan.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued guidelines last month excluding international and undocumented students, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] recipients, or Dreamers, from receiving checks under the $2.2 trillion emergency aid program.

Her decision was challenged Monday by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who filed a lawsuit arguing that Ms. DeVos is “trying to deny Dreamers and other Washington students the assistance they need—and that Congress intended.”

“All higher education students in Washington state deserve to be part of our recovery,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in a statement.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last month a $125 million state-and-privately financed fund to assist illegal immigrants, with adults receiving a one-time payment of $500, capped at $1,000 per household, with no income limit.

*story by Washington Times