President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law early this month, a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill to revive the American economy from the effects of COVID-19.
“It’s never a good bet to bet against America,” Biden said in an address to the nation. “America is coming back.”
The bill contains several provisions, including increases in the child tax credit, extended unemployment benefits, higher education funding and a third stimulus payment that the IRS began distributing on March 12. To be eligible to receive the $1,400 direct payment, individuals must earn less or equal to $75,000 per year and couples must earn less or equal to $150,000 per year.
According to UMKC professor of political science Dr. Beth Vonnahme, this stimulus package is essentially an expansion on earlier provisions from the previous stimulus bills. Vonnahme noted the importance of the substantial increases in child tax credit and the expansion of the Affordable Care Act, which will cover more individuals and families.
“As heralded, there is a boost to the child tax credit so that families can receive up to $3600, from $2000 for young children and $3000 for older children,” Vonnahme said. “Most critically, this tax credit is refundable, you do not have to pay more taxes than the credit to get a refund. All the above provisions are really expansions of earlier provisions or changes to current tax rules.”
Vonnahme also noted that the bill includes provisions that provide substantial funds for vaccine distribution, additional funding for the return of in-person teaching at K-12 schools and extend federal unemployment benefits through September ($300 per week).
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the new stimulus bill is also set to give nearly $40 billion to higher education as an extension of the last Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF II). UMKC received a total of $12,074,346 from the last HEERF Fund for institutional and student aid.
As of the date of this article’s publication, UMKC’s Financial Aid Office has yet to receive any word of new funding.