House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, delivers a statement on the Heroes Act aid package introduced by House democrats, May 12, 2020 on Capitol Hill, in Washington D.C. The legislation provides nearly $1 trillion for states and cities, and "hazard pay" for essential workers affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Source: Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images/AFP

The CARES Act — which stands for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) — is a  coronavirus relief package signed into law late March, after passing the Senate on March 25, and the House of Representatives on March 27.

The US$2 trillion legislation aims to provide quick economic assistance to “American workers, families, and small businesses”. This includes economic impact payments (better known as stimulus checks), federal student loan relief, and protection programmes for those who have been laid off.

According to the US Treasury Department, “The CARES Act provides for Economic Impact Payments to American households of up to US$1,200 per adult for individuals whose income was less than US$99,000 (or US$198,000 for joint filers) and US$500 per child under 17 years old — or up to US$3,400 for a family of four.”

International students — who fall under the nonresident alien category — are not eligible to receive any form of financial aid under the CARES Act, even if they are taxpayers and have a social security number.


International students were not eligible for stimulus payments under the CARES act. Source: Chip Somodevilla/AFP

International students eligible for financial aid under proposed HEROES Act

On Tuesday, House Democrats proposed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The new US$3 trillion aid package is to provide direct relief to American and bolster funding to state and local governments.

Among other forms of financial aid, it will include a second round of stimulus payments to individuals, at US$1,200 per family member (up to US$6,000 per household)

According to Forbes, financial aid under the proposed HEROES Act may be available to all students and prohibits the US Department of Education from limiting who can get the grants, meaning international students will be eligible.

It will also include a “US$600-per-week boost in unemployment insurance established under the CARES Act until January 2021 to help millions who have lost jobs during the pandemic,” as well as student loan forgiveness for private loan borrowers.

International students should tune in to the live proceedings at the House of Representatives this Friday when it will vote on the bill. Analysts are predicting it will end up voted against in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Can international students expect aid in future?

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow, when pressed by White House reporters Monday, declined to give a timeline for when additional legislation might be implemented, and previously remarked that “official discussions on what would be the fifth coronavirus relief bill may not resume until June.”

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