Repeated requests by The College Fix to University of California system officials asking how much money it has earmarked to give to undocumented students to help with COVID-related expenses have been rebuffed.
System officials have made comments to several media outlets that say the 10-campus public university system has set aside “institutional” funds to support undocumented students who are in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in June on the constitutionality of the DACA program, and the UC system is fighting in court to keep it established.
But meanwhile, questions on how much money and what pool of “institutional” funding will be used for support payments to DACA students went unanswered despite several emails and phone calls from The College Fix.
Two recent news reports quote University of California spokeswoman Sarah McBride saying the system will dole out the money to DACA students since they were excluded from receiving federal aid from Congress’ CARES Act, including stories in Inside Higher Ed and the Californian, the student newspaper at UC Berkeley.
McBride states there are about 1,600 DACA students enrolled in the UC system.
“[T]he University will leverage other institutional funds to replace financial support that these students have been unfairly restricted from accessing,” McBride told Inside Higher Ed.
The Californian reports the amount per student will be equivalent to the stimulus checks distributed to traditional students through the CARES Act.
The act provided $14 billion in higher education relief, and required that at least half of the money be paid directly to students. With that, many traditional students in California and across the nation received roughly $1,200 each.
Therefore the amount to be distributed to the UC system’s DACA students may be in the neighborhood of $1.9 million.
According to a May 5 post by the Center for American Progress, not allowing DACA students to qualify for the federal aid was unfair: “The administration must rescind this cruel and unnecessary mistake. It is not only immoral and economically counterintuitive, but it is also ungrounded in the law.”
The financial support comes as the University of California grapples with economic woes, as it estimates that it lost roughly $1.2 billion in revenue from mid-March through April, according to a May 18 memo from University of California President Janet Napolitano.
Napolitano’s memo spells out cost-saving measures the system is implementing in the wake of the COVID-related budget shortfall, including the 10 chancellors taking a 10 percent pay cut.
Los Angeles Times reports that “Gov. Gavin Newsom last week announced a revised state budget for 2020-21 that includes a 10% funding cut of $372 million — a reversal from his January proposal of a 5% increase for the UC system.”
Napolitano, in a May 14 news release, responded to the governor’s budget revisions.
“We will continue to work with the legislature to secure additional sources of funding to see us through this difficult time,” she said.
But, it appears that any state assistance, including that from the state legislature, depends on the federal government.
“The federal government must pass a relief package for state and local governments. Without one, deep cuts to core services like schools, universities, and safety net programs will be unavoidable—both in California and across the country,” stated Gov. Newsom in the budget summary.