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CARES ACT & Undocumented Students

Dear UC Merced Student,

I hope this message finds you and your family well and safe.

I am writing to you in regard to the recent CARES Act that assists college students who have been impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic. More importantly, how it impacts undocumented students.

The CARES Act funds are federal dollars for which the Department of Education has provided heavily-scrutinized guidance to only allow U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (“green card” holders), and certain qualifying “resident aliens” to receive funds, notably excluding Undocumented students and recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), or “DACAmented” students. The CARES Act funds are being disbursed as emergency grants to FAFSA students. For students with asylum or active T visas receiving these funds, know that they will NOT incur the public charge test.

The University of California continues to stand with our undocumented communities throughout the UC system. Though undocumented students are excluded from the funds that the CARES Act provides to undergraduate and graduate students the UC will continue to ensure that our all students have secure housing, food security, and access to health services.

In a recent email University of California spokeswoman Sarah McBride said, “The University of California is very disappointed that undocumented students, some of the most vulnerable members of our community, are not eligible to access funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.”

“However,” she said, “these students will not be left empty-handed; the University will leverage other institutional funds to replace financial support that these students have been unfairly restricted from accessing.”

Since each UC campus’s plan for the CARES Act funding is slightly different, the funding needed and the award amounts for undocumented students will be slightly different. So far, every UC campus has confirmed that they are providing funding or are actively trying to identify the funds now.

lieu of federal CARES Act funds, we, at UC Merced, are still disbursing institutional emergency funds to students with a California Dream Act application on file. Students who are in need of funds for rent and food sustainability should fill out the Services for Undocumented Students Emergency Funds request form.

In order to be eligible for emergency grant(s) students must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Must be undocumented
  • Must be a current UC Merced student enrolled in a minimum of 12 units
  • Must be low-income as defined by financial aid guidelines
  • Must not be eligible for federal financial aid (Pell grant, federal loans, etc.)
  • Note: Financial Aid packages will be considered for eligibility.

Approved emergency funds will be available to the student within two (2-3) business days (funds are deposited on Tuesdays and Thursdays). It is highly recommended that students enroll in the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) available through Student Business Services (SBS). Your emergency funds will be transferred via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) to your designated bank account.

We encourage students to utilize the varied resources available to undocumented students and their families. For a list of state-wide resources, please visit the Services for Undocumented Students COVID-19 website.

Funds to assist with food sustainability may be disbursed in the form of a gift card to be used at a local grocery store. The Office for Services for Undocumented Students works collaboratively with Basic Needs in assisting both on and off-campus students in continuing to provide access to food and other necessities. The Food Pantry is still available to students; however, dates and times have changed due to COVID-19. Students can receive a prepackaged grocery bag (limit of one grocery bag per week per student), students are requested to complete the grocery bag pick-up form every week.

The USDA Food Distribution ("Drive-Thru" Model) at the Merced College Tri-College Center is still open on the third Friday of each month (next dates: May 15th and June 19th). Doors open at 10:00 AM. Location: Merced Community College (Parking Lot 2) - Off of G Street, across from Mercy Hospital.

Pop-Up People’s Pantry is another option open to students. Open every Saturday at 1:00 PM at 936 West 18th Street in Merced. Please feel free to reach out to Erin Meyer, Sustainable Food Programs Coordinator at with any questions.

Students who have been displaced from their housing can apply for Emergency Housing through the Dean of Students Office. The emergency housing option ensures that UC Merced students who are experiencing displacement or homelessness have a safe place to stay temporarily while trying to secure permanent housing. A few examples of reasons why students have been approved for emergency housing include:

  • Unexpected economic challenge leading to homelessness
  • Displacement due to unsafe, unhealthy or unpredictable living conditions
  • Unpredictable change in financial dependency

Short-term emergency housing assistance is available through University Housing and housing partners.

Additional Resources:


UHAUL is offering free 30-day storage to any student during this time that may have be affected by COVID-19. (The free month applies to new customers with college IDs and is a limited time offer subject to availability). For more information on how to use this resource, visit UHAUL's website.

Enterprise Car Rental:

Enterprise Car Rental is lowering their age to rent a car from 21 to 18 and waiving the young renter fee for rentals until May 31st. If students need to get home and don't want to risk getting on a plane/train - this could help! For more information on how to use this resource, visit Enterprise's website.


Spectrum is offering 60 days free broadband and WIFI to students. Anyone wanting to enroll for the free offer can call 1-844-488-8395. For more information on how to use this resource, visit Spectrum's website.

Beginning May 18, 2020, The Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI) project is a one-time state-funded disaster relief assistance for undocumented adult immigrants impacted by COVID-19. An undocumented adult who qualifies can receive $500 in direct assistance, with a maximum of $1000 in assistance per household. How does one apply? Find the nonprofit where you can apply in your area.

I encourage you to utilize these and other resources available to you and your families. Our commitment to our undocumented communities has not wavered and we continue to stand with you and your families in the midst of this challenging period of time.

In Solidarity,

Alejandro S. Delgadillo
Associate Director for Educational Equity and Access
Calvin E. Bright Success Center
UC Merced
5200 North Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343
(209) 228-4625 (direct line)
(209) 626-9078 (cell)
To schedule a meeting: