The “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act”: Summary of Major Early Childhood, K-12, and Higher Education Provisions

Published March 2020
by Jennifer Castagna, Sean Worley, and Kristin Hermann

On March 27, the President signed into law the "Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act" following an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 96-0 in the Senate and passage by voice vote in the House. The CARES Act is the third package developed in response to the coronavirus crisis by Congress and the Administration. The Act, which is estimated to cost approximately $2 trillion, seeks to provide relief to individuals and families through direct payments and increased Unemployment Insurance benefits, support U.S. industries and small businesses impacted by the coronavirus, and provide emergency supplemental appropriations to various agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Education (USED) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The Act also provides increased authority for federal agencies to waive select statutory and regulatory requirements.  This initial summary provides an overview of the key early childhood, K-12, and higher education provisions of the CARES Act, focused on the emergency supplemental appropriations and authorities for USED and HHS.