Stimulus Checks: What to Know About the Student RELIEF Act

A group of House Democrats introduced new legislation to fix one of the glaring oversights in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act signed into law in late March. The stimulus package included the one-time economic impact payments for at least $1,200 for qualifying Americans unfortunately, as many learned the act excluded college-age Americans, the group targeted by the Student Recovery Eligibility for Low-Income Individuals to Exact Funds (RELIEF) Act of 2020.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois introduced the new act on Monday. Fellow Democratic Reps. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Sheila Jackson Lee and Filemon Vela of Texas, Jimmy Panetta of California, Nydia M. Velazquez of New York, Andre Carson of Indiana and Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, D.C. are co-sponsoring the bill. Rush said it would make sure the "nation's most vulnerable families" would be "eligible for the $1,200 direct stimulus payments they did not receive the first time around." The bill targets explicitly students receiving Federal Pell Grants.

"Colleges and universities across the country have shuttered to limit the spread of COVID-19," Rush said in a statement. "While these closures have protected students from illness, they have also forced many students to return home to families who simply cannot afford the unexpected financial burden of suddenly having one, two, or even three additional mouths to feed." He said it was "critical" for Congress to "ensure the vitality of these vulnerable students and their families, especially during these unprecedented times."

The one-time stimulus checks included in the CARES Act were sent to individual American taxpayers who filed federal taxes for 2018 or 2019 and earned $75,000 or less during those years. Couples who filed jointly and received $150,000 or less qualified for a payment of $2,400. Dependents aged under 17 were eligible for $500, added to the remittances sent to their parents or guardians who claimed them on their tax filings. However, this meant young adults, many of whom are in college and struggling during the economic crisis, were ineligible for any relief.

While Congress considers putting together another coronavirus stimulus package, some members are looking to make patches to the CARES Act. Last week, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Thom Tillis introduced the American Citizen Coronavirus Relief Act to fix another oversight. If a spouse is an immigrant without a Social Security Number, their entire family was made ineligible for a stimulus check. Rubio and Tillis' bill would fix this so that a family would at least be sent a stimulus check for the family members who do have a Social Security Number.