Stimulus package changes federal student loan policy, pays those in need

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Courtesy of the FEMA Photo Library

The U.S. Capitol Building

Congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus package that will pay individuals and families, as well as make changes to the federal student loan policy, to provide relief to Americans facing economic impacts due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the stimulus package, anyone earning $75,000 or less individually would receive a $1,200 payment, while married couples earning $150,000 or less would receive $2,400. Heads of household making $112,500 and under will receive the full $1,200 payment.

If a person has a yearly income above those amounts, payments decrease until a person makes $99,000 as an individual or $198,000 as a couple.

A person or couple will receive $500 per child age 16 or under on top of their original payment, if eligible.

College students will not get anything if claimed as dependents on a person’s tax return, according to The New York Times.

To determine the amount a person is eligible for, the government will look at 2019 tax returns, or 2018 returns if a person has not yet submitted a 2019 tax return.

Payments, in the form of direct deposits to bank accounts or mailed checks, could start to come in the next three weeks, according to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Through the package, the government has expanded its original two month waiver of student loan payments and interest and suspended payments for any government held student loan. Perkins loans, loans from state agencies or private loans do not fall under this legislation. However, these organizations may be offering their own programs to deal with impacts of the virus.

Unemployment benefits will also be expanded under the bill, with the main feature being part-time and self employed workers eligibility for unemployment benefits. However, employees that can work from home or are on paid sick or family leave would not be eligible, nor would those who were unemployed and still looking for jobs before the pandemic. 

For renters, the bill puts a temporary, nationwide moratorium on evictions from landlords who have mortgages backed by federal entities, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for 120 days after the stimulus package was signed into effect. 

The bill was passed by the Senate Wednesday and passed by the House of Representatives Friday. President Donald Trump will sign the bill into law Friday afternoon.