The Senate approved the largest federal stimulus in American history late Wednesday night (3/25). The House of Representatives will consider the $2.2 trillion bill on Friday (3/27).
The bill is expected to provide $13 billion in emergency relief to colleges and students and temporarily suspend student loan payments until September.
The stimulus package allocates $6.2 billion to higher ed institutions and $6.2 billion for emergency student aid. Nearly $1 billion will go to minority-serving institutions.
The bill also gives the Education Department the authority to distribute an additional $300 million to colleges hit hardest.
Taxpayers who earn up to $75,000 a year will receive a payment of $1,200, and most families will receive an additional $500 per child. The bill also includes a “substantial” expansion of unemployment benefits, guarantees loans for small businesses, creates a $500 billion fund for distressed companies and provides $100 billion in aid for hospitals and health systems.
Nearly a dozen higher education associations originally called on Congress to provide about $50 billion in federal assistance: $1,500 apiece for students required to leave campus and assistance for institutions that have been forced to move instruction online. Many advocates say this bill doesn’t go far enough.
The bill provides more relief to students and colleges than what was included in the initial version proposed by Republicans, but does not totally cancel student debt during the crisis, as proposed by some Democratic lawmakers.
The bill is also expected to include at least $1.25 billion for federal research agencies to support COVID-19 research, helping support some research faculty and scientists.