Legislative Update: Phase Three COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

This week, Congress passed the third stimulus bill in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Read below to learn more about this phase includes, as well as additional measures the U.S. Department of Education is taking at this time. 

Congress Passes Legislation in Response to COVID-19

Earlier today, the House passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (H.R. 748)- or the CARES Act- following the Senate passing of this bill on Wednesday night.The $2.2 trillion package provides economic relief and resources in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), including for education and workforce development programs. Some of the measures in the bill include: 

  • $30.75 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund for states, school districts and institutions of higher education for costs related to Coronavirus. This includes: 
    • $13.5 billion for elementary and secondary education formula-grants for states;
    • $3 billion for Governors to allocate in an emergency capacity to state education agencies most affected; and
    • $14.25 for higher education emergency relief for postsecondary institutions to defray costs that they have incurred or will incur as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • Authority for the Secretary of Education to provide waivers from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, except civil rights laws, that are necessary in response to Coronavirus;
  • Temporary relief for federal student loan borrowers to defer payments, principal and interest for 6 months. This also gives flexibility to students with federal student loans that dropped out of school as a result of Coronavirus;
  • Allows postsecondary students at institutions that closed because of Coronavirus to discount that semester toward their lifetime Pell eligibility; 
  • Continues federal work study payments to students who are no longer able to work as a result of closures;
  • Flexibility for local workforce boards to use Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds for administrative costs (such as digital resources); 
  • $360 million for the Department of Labor to invest in programs to support training and services for dislocated workers, seniors, migrant farmworkers and homeless veterans; and
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to provide unemployment insurance for those who would not typically be covered, but cannot work as a result of Coronavirus.

A fact sheet from the Senate Committee on health, Education, Labor and Pensions can be found here and the full text can be viewed here

Next, this bill will go to the president to be signed into law and implemented. 

Secretary DeVos Orders Relief For Many Student Loan Borrowers

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Department will temporarily stop student loan collections and wage garnishments. In addition, the office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) will refund $1.8 billion to the 830,000 borrowers who were collected from since March 13, 2020- the date that President Donald Trump announced a hold on federal student loan interest collection, and the ability for borrowers not in default to suspend student loan payments for two months. More information can be found here.

Advance CTE Summarizes Department Resources

The U.S. Department of Education has a page on its website with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) resources and updates for elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education. You can access this information at www.ed.gov/coronavirus. Linked here are brief overviews from Advance CTE of what can be found in some of the K-12 materials. Advance CTE will continue to share posts with a breakdown of the resources, so check back for future blogs!

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Samuel Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

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