COVID-19 Financial Relief

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COVID-19 Financial Relief

March 31, 2020
Last week, Congress passed, and President Trump signed into law, new legislation that will provide $2.2 trillion in economic stimulus for families and businesses that have been impacted by the coronavirus. Below ACSM Vice President of Government Relations Monte Ward offers a summary of a few of the provisions related to the legislation that may be useful for ACSM members and certified professionals such as state-specific resources, information on taxes and rebates, and details specific to education. Contact Monte directly at with any questions.

State Resources

Taxes and Rebates

Recovery Rebates

The measure would provide refundable tax credits of as much as $1,200 per individual or $2,400 for couples who file joint tax returns. An additional $500 would be provided for each child.

The credit would be reduced by 5% for the amount a taxpayer’s income exceeds $150,000 for joint returns, $112,500 for heads of household, and $75,000 for other filers. The rebate would completely phase out for incomes exceeding $198,000 for joint filers, $146,500 for heads of household, and $99,000 for individual filers, according to a summary from the Senate Finance Committee.

The rebate would be based on 2019 taxes, or for individuals who haven’t filed, against their 2018 taxes or 2019 Social Security statements.

Payments would be made through Dec. 31, 2020. They could be delivered electronically to accounts where a taxpayer had authorized deposit of a tax refund or other federal payment on or after Jan. 1, 2018. Notice would have to be sent to the taxpayer within 15 days of sending the payment.

Small Businesses

7(a) Loans

The measure would establish a new Paycheck Protection Program to let small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals seek loans through the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) loan program.

The measure would authorize $349 billion in total 7(a) lending from Feb. 15 through June 30, instead of the current $30 billion authorization for fiscal 2020.

It would also provide $349 billion for the SBA to fully guarantee loans under the new program, compared with a 75% or 85% guarantee for standard 7(a) loans.

Loans would be available during the covered period for:

  • Any business, nonprofit, veterans group, or tribal business with 500 or fewer employees, or a number set by the SBA for the relevant industry.
  • Sole proprietors, independent contractors, and eligible self-employed workers.
  • Hotel and food service chains with 500 or fewer employees per location.

Eligible recipients could receive loans for as much as $10 million or 250% of their average monthly payroll costs, instead of $5 million. Interest rates during the covered period would be capped at 4%.

Recipients could use the loans to cover eligible payroll costs -- including salaries, commissions, regular paid leave, and health-care benefits -- as well as mortgage interest and utility payments. They’d have to make a “good faith certification” that they’ll use the funds to retain workers, maintain payroll, and pay for rent and similar expenses.

Disaster Loans

The measure would provide $10 billion to expand the SBA’s disaster loan program from Jan. 31 through Dec. 31 to cover businesses, cooperatives, employee stock ownership plans, and tribal businesses with 500 or fewer employees, as well as sole proprietors and independent contractors.

The SBA would have to waive certain eligibility rules during the covered period for disaster loans made in response to Covid-19.

The measure also would authorize the SBA to advance as much as $10,000 to existing and newly eligible disaster loan recipients within three days of receiving their applications. Recipients could use the advance funds to pay sick leave to employees affected by Covid-19, retain employees, address interrupted supply chains, make rent or mortgage payments, and repay debt. They wouldn’t have to repay the advance funds.


Financial Aid

The measure would allow the Education Department to waive requirements related to institutions’ eligibility for and allotment of federal financial aid, as well as certain reporting requirements. The department would also have broad authority to waive provisions to ensure that schools receiving federal aid aren’t adversely affected by formula-based calculations during the coronavirus emergency.

The package would direct the department to waive requirements that higher education institutions match a portion of federal student aid for two school years. When calculating eligibility against lifetime usage limits, the department couldn’t count a student’s enrollment in subsidized loan or Pell Grant programs during any semester the student didn’t complete because of the emergency.

The department would waive repayment of grants and loans by students who received support and were forced to withdraw from school.

The department could allow institutions to keep unused grant or loan assistance if students were unable to use the funding due to the emergency. It could modify the required and allowable uses of funds provided to institutions, as well as nonfederal matching requirements, upon the request of an institution or other grant recipient.

The measure would allow institutions to:

  • Roll over unused funds from the previous five years for use during the next five-year period.
  • Make work-study payments to participating students who were unable to fulfill their work requirements due to closed workplaces.
  • Treat any unspent work-study funds as grants to support the ability of low-income students to access and complete higher education.
  • Use supplemental educational opportunity grants to provide emergency aid to students facing unexpected expenses and unmet needs.
  • Provide students with leaves of absence that don’t require them to pick up where they left off if they return the same semester.
  • Exclude credits for classes a student began but didn’t finish due to the emergency when determining the student’s academic progress for financial aid eligibility purposes.

Foreign institutions could offer distance learning without jeopardizing their eligibility for U.S. financial aid during a declared public health emergency or similar emergency in the relevant country. The provision would be retroactive to March 1.

The department could amend the types of extenuating circumstances that can excuse a Teach Grant recipient from fulfilling teaching service obligations. It would have to consider service that is part-time or interrupted due to the Covid-19 crisis to have been full-time.

It would also have to waive teacher student loan forgiveness requirements related to consecutive years of service if an interruption was caused by the emergency and the borrower completes a combined five years or more of qualifying teaching service.

Other Education Provisions

  • Loan Repayment: The measure would suspend student loan payments and interest accrual through Sept. 30, which would cover six months for most borrowers. Each month for which payments are suspended would be treated as if on-time payments were made for purposes of federal loan forgiveness programs. Involuntary collections related to student loans, such as wage garnishments or tax refund reductions, as well as negative credit reporting would also be suspended for the same period.
  • General Waivers: The Education Department would have broad authority during the coronavirus emergency to waive obligations at the request of state or local governments, school systems, or the Bureau of Indian Education. Waivers could address academic assessments, institutional support for schools, professional development, allocation and accounting for federal education funding, and reporting requirements, among other things. They would generally be limited to the current academic year. Civil rights laws couldn’t be waived.
  • HBCU Capital Loans: The measure would appropriate $62 million for the department to defer and cover the principal and interest on capital loans to historically black colleges and universities due during the emergency. After the original loan is repaid, the institutions would have to repay any amounts covered by the department.
  • AmeriCorps Service: The Corporation for National and Community Service would have to allow AmeriCorps participants who are eligible for educational awards and whose service has been limited due to COVID-19 to perform other activities to accrue necessary service hours. The corporation could provide the full value of an educational award for service to participants forced to suspend or limit their involvement or exit the program early as a result of the coronavirus emergency.

Read More Important COVID-19 Information.