Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) has proposed the Student Recovery Eligibility for Low-Income Individuals to Exact Funds (RELIEF) Act of 2020 that would give $1,200 stimulus checks to all students who received Pell Grants.
The Federal Pell Grant Program is a need-based financial aid program that is given to low-income undergraduate and some postbaccalaureate students to promote postsecondary education. Students who qualify are given these grants based on their financial need, costs to attend school, as well as their academic status and plans to attend school. These grants are not loans so they do not need to be repaid.
“Unimaginably, many of these students were ineligible to receive a direct financial assistance payment through the CARES Act, which would have provided them and their families with much needed relief during this crisis. The Student RELIEF Act seeks to alleviate the economic hardships of our nation’s most vulnerable families by making Pell Grant students and their families eligible for the $1,200 direct stimulus payments they did not received the first time around.”
The Student RELIEF Act of 2020 has seven co-sponsors including Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Rep. Andre Carson (D-IM), Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY), and Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX).
One of the glaring omissions from the stimulus checks in the Cares Act were to college students ages 17 and older. If they were claimed by their parents as dependents, they would not receive a stimulus check. Additionally, their parents wouldn’t receive $500 bonus for them because only dependents 16 and younger qualified.
The House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act and it included fixes for this oversight but it’s unlikely to pass the Senate in its current form.
Much like the bill introduced by Senator Marco Rubio, which would send stimulus checks to families where one spouse was a non-citizen, this one would fix the problem of omitting college students from the stimulus relief.
Since Pell Grants are typically awarded to students with significant need, it’s likely they would satisfy the income requirements for stimulus checks in the Cares Act.