College Students Partially Left Out of Stimulus Bill

By Josyana Joshua, Howard University News Service

Washington, D.C.— As the coronavirus continues to affect people’s lives, much of the country is receiving a stimulus check from the government. But some college students may not see anything.

On March 27, the United States government signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The stimulus bill authorized $2 trillion that will go to helping citizens and businesses, including a one time payment of $1,200 to those who qualify and easing requirements for small businesses to receive emergency loans.

To receive the $1,200 stimulus check, individuals have to be considered taxpayers, meaning they have to have filed their 2018 or 2019 taxes. 

But, there is a catch if you are a college student; if your parents claimed you as a dependent, you won’t receive a check and they won’t receive the $500 for you since you are over 16-years-old. 

Brianna Fornes, a sophomore at Fairleigh Dickinson University, feels these restrictions are unfair. 

“In times like this all college students should receive a stimulus check,” Fornes said. “Many of us are currently not working, have bills to pay and receiving the check would ease some of the stress that comes along with this pandemic and difficult times.”

Students have been adversely affected by covid-19. The pandemic did not only impact students’ schooling, but also their financial situations and living situations. They were kicked out of dorms, many lost jobs and internships and have been forced to adjust to a new way of learning, all at the same time. “I personally have a friend who has lost their summer internship plans because of the pandemic,” Robert Cruz, a junior at the University of Delaware. “That was money she needed to support herself and save for her next semester in college.” 

The government did not completely leave students and universities out of the CARES Act. Half of the $14 billion allocated under the bill is set aside to directly help students who have been affected by the pandemic. 

“The CARES Act provides institutions with significant discretion on how to award this emergency assistance to students. This means that each institution may develop its own system and process for determining how to allocate these funds, which may include distributing the funds to all students or only to students who demonstrate significant need,” Secretary of the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, said in a letter to universities

“The only statutory requirement is that the funds be used to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care),” she continued. DeVos also suggested limiting the amount of aid given to students to $6,195, the max amount awarded to 2019-2020 Pell Grant recipients.

Universities are just beginning to receive their funding from the Department of Education. The amount they receive is based on the amount of Pell Grant recipients attending the university. For example, Howard University is receiving $8.7 million with a little more than $4 million allocated especially to be given to students, according to a list from InsideHigherEd.

Though students can apply for aid through their school, it is not guaranteed all students will receive aid. Which leaves students who do not qualify for a stimulus check and who might not receive aid from their school, with a lack of financial help during this time.