By Lexi Meola
Elm Staff Writer
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act works to help Americans who are struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Passed by Congress on March 27, 2020 under the Trump administration, the CARES Act works to help small business, college students, higher education facilities, and many other groups by providing necessary funding.
The CARES Act allows students to become eligible for a Student Emergency Aid Grant if they no longer can afford to pay for college because of financial limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With students and families losing their jobs as the economy shut down during the first lockdown, their college incomes were depleted.
Under the Biden Administration, the American Rescue Plan, passed by the Senate on March 6, 2021, builds off the foundation of the CARES Act and adds some new policies to provide more aid to struggling groups — like college students.
In a poll conducted on GroupMe, nine out of 12 Washington College students stated that they were aware of what the CARES Act was. While some college students are oblivious to the many bills discussed in Congress, WC students’ level of awareness surrounding the CARES Act shows they are mindful of the ways in which the bill may impact them.
“Students should care [about the CARES Act] because, in a few years, we will be out of college and looking for jobs,” sophomore Nick Splendoria said. “Passing legislation like the American Rescue Plan goes a long way in preventing an economic collapse when we will be at a critical point in our lives. In addition, the CARES Act and ARP just help a lot of people that are hurting, and we all know someone who has been affected by the pandemic.”
The WC community has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic along with the rest of the world, with many students struggling to make ends meet in a locked-down society, where they no longer have a consistent paycheck.
“Broadly, the new American Rescue Plan, building on the CARES Act passed last year, will go a long way in preventing a total economic collapse,” Splendoria said. “More importantly, the American Rescue Plan currently being debated in Congress helps adult dependents — so students. This means that college students will be eligible for a stimulus check and benefits, helping us out majorly.”
In March of 2020, Senior Will Reid said the CARES Act gave him the money he needs to continue schoolwork remotely.
“I’m in support of the CARES Act because it’s very effective at its mission,” he said. “I personally got a hotspot for wireless connection with money from them because my home Wi-Fi was not working effectively.”
It is important that WC students become informed on legislation that directly impacts them, especially if it continues to affect their lives after graduation. It should not just be political science majors who take interest in congressional proceedings. The majority of college students are eligible to vote in elections, meaning they have a say in which political candidates will end up making important legislative decisions that will impact their future.
“I would suggest that students follow Crooked Media’s and Vote Save America’s social media pages,” Splendoria said. “They often put out good explainers of important legislation like this. If you like podcasts, Crooked Media’s ‘Pod Save America’ is also a good resource to stay up to date on the news, and it’s both funny and informative.”
There are plenty of ways that students can become informed on what is happening in the U.S. government. They can download news apps, subscribe to a news channel on YouTube, follow news networks on social media, and much more.
“There are a lot of ways to get engaged,” sophomore Dylan Snow said. “Listening to a podcast or watching a comedian like John Oliver or Trevor Noah can teach you a lot of basic information, and then I’d encourage people to go more in depth and learn more.”
The CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan both work to provide struggling American citizens with the necessary funding to thrive in this country. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the world unexpectedly and a year later people are still suffering. It is important for all citizens, especially college students, to become more engaged in legislation that aims to give them aid.