Stimulus Legislation & UH System

Dear University of Houston System Faculty, Staff and Students,

I hope you and your families are safe and healthy. Today, I write to update you of the provisions of the Federal Stimulus Legislation that directly impact you as you navigate these very challenging times. The Stimulus Legislation, among other things, offers direct help for students and universities. It also offers funds to governors to help K-12 and postsecondary educational institutions in their respective states. In addition, there are several general provisions that can also benefit faculty, staff and students.

The UH System Team has put together a list of items that you may benefit from.

For Students

The Federal Stimulus Legislation makes it possible for many of you to continue your studies this summer and into the fall semester without interruption whether you rely on financial aid or income from a full- or part-time job that has been impacted by COVID-19. More specifically,

  • Student Loans: The legislation temporarily suspends student loan payments over six months, through the end of September 2020.
  • Emergency Aid: The stimulus deal would give much needed support to the University of Houston System universities to help to defray expenses associated with the transition to remote teaching, emergency aid to students, and funds to help with reimbursements associated with the cost of attendance.
  • Financial Aid: Financial aid will continue without interruption. 
  • Unemployment Benefits: Students who lose full- or part-time jobs and file for unemployment insurance will receive $600 per week from the federal government for up to four months in addition to a maximum benefit of $521 per week from the state of Texas. If you have lost a job, I encourage you to file for unemployment insurance through the Texas Workforce Commission.
  • Federal Work-Study: Students who are receiving support through the federal work-study program who are unable to work due to closures can continue to receive payments for this benefit.

For Faculty and Staff:

  • Employee Pay: The funds provide financial support needed to continue to pay our employees despite lost revenues during this period.
  • Research Funding: Nearly $1.2 billion will go to the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy Office of Science, and NASA for COVID-19 research. This funding is accessible through the normal competitive processes at each agency.
  • Assurance: The bill includes assurances that the state of Texas will maintain support for higher education, which shall include state funding to institutions of higher education and state need-based financial aid.

For You as Taxpayer:
The stimulus also offers some benefits to all taxpayers (including resident aliens) who filed income tax statements in 2018:

  • If you filed your 2018 taxes independently (not as a dependent) and made $75,000 or less, you will receive $1,200;
  • If you filed your 2018 taxes as a married couple and made $150,000 or less, you will receive $2,400;
  • If you filed your 2018 taxes as single, head of household, and made $112,000 or less, you will receive $1,200;
  • If you have children 16 years or younger, you will receive an additional $500 for each of those children;
  • Single persons making up to $99,000 or married persons with a combined income of $198,000 or less will also receive payments, but they will be made on a sliding scale up to these incomes levels.

To determine how much you might receive, you can utilize this stimulus check calculator.

With the exception of emergency aid, these benefits will not flow through the university, and for many of them, the timeframe is not yet known.  As we learn more about these provisions, the communications teams will post them on the coronavirus web pages. Please keep checking your university’s individual website for more information.

I want to close by thanking you for your dedication and hard work, but I want to express a special gratitude to all the essential personnel who continue to come to campus to attend their duties. I know that each and every one of you is navigating complicated circumstances that are both unpredictable and difficult. We are all in it together and we will all get through it together.  Please follow social distancing protocols and stay safe.

With warm regards,

Renu Khator