Understanding the COVID-19 CARES Act Money Distribution

Now that the COVID-19 stimulus bill for coronavirus aid, relief, and economic security has been passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, many Americans have questions about how the $2 trillion in relief provide by the CARES Act will be distributed.

We can break it down for you, but fair warning, there’s some stuff you’re not going to like. However, this is where $2 trillion is going.


$603.7 billion, or 30 %, is allocated to providing financial aid to individuals.

  • Rebate checks to Americans will account for $300 billion; 
  • $260 billion will be paid as extra unemployment payments for those who have or will lose their jobs due to the global coronavirus pandemic;
  • Much of the remaining $43.7 billion will go to pay student loans.

Large Corporations

$500 billion, or 25%, will go to large corporations. (We told you some of this would be unpleasant.)

  • $425 billion will be for loans to corporations;
  • $58 billion goes to the airline industry

Small Businesses

$377 billion, or 19%, will go to small businesses.

  • $350 billion of that will go for new loans;
  • $17 billion will be spent on relief for existing loans;
  • $10 billion will be given as grants for small businesses.

State and Local Governments

$339.8 billion, or 17%, will go to help state and local governments.

  • $274 billion of that is for COVID-19 response;
  • $14 billion is for higher education;
  • $13 billion will go to K-12 schools;
  • $5.3 billion to fund family programs;
  • $5 billion for block grants;
  • $28.5 billion for murky state and local “other”

Public Services

$179.5 billion, or 9 %, is earmarked for public services.

  • $100 billion will go to hospitals;
  • $20 billion is for veterans’ health care;
  • $16 billion for stockpiled equipment;
  • $15.5 billion for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program);
  • $11 billion for drug access;
  • $8.8 billion for child nutrition;
  • $4.3 billion for CDC programs and response;
  • $1.3 billion for community health centers;
  • $.45 billion to food banks;
  • $.08 billion for FDA prioritization of drugs;
  • $2.05 billion is earmarked for public services as “other”

These figures are not set in stone. The Secretary of the Treasury will have the final say in the distribution of the relief money from the CARES Act.