As the pandemic shows no signs of slowing throughout the holiday season, Congress finally passed a new COVID-19 stimulus package Dec 21. The last relief bill, passed back in March 2020, gave $1,200 to most adult Americans — but left out adult dependents, meaning that many college students were ineligible for the financial help. Now, many young Americans may be wondering: Will college students get the second stimulus check? Here's what the fine print says.
The 5,593-page bill was approved by the House and the Senate after months of deliberation in Congress, and is now on its way to approval from President Donald Trump. The $900+ billion package includes $120 billion in enhanced unemployment benefits through Mar. 14, 2021, and $166 billion in direct cash payments to Americans. Adults making up to $75,000 annually are eligible to claim $600 in direct relief, while couples making up to $150,000 annually are eligible to claim $1,200, in addition to $600 for each dependent child.
However, there's a catch. Once again, the payments only include dependent children under age 17. Per CNBC, adult dependents — including many college students, disabled adults, and elderly adults — will not receive stimulus money. The IRS considers you a dependent student if you're under age 24 and lived with your parents for at least half the year in 2019 — and temporary absences from home, like living elsewhere while you attend school, count as living with your parents. "The high school junior, the high school senior, and the full-time college student who still qualifies as a dependent — they're the ones who fall through the cracks," Janet Holtzblatt, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, previously told Elite Daily after the March 2020 stimulus was unveiled.
To be clear, college students can get the second $600 stimulus check, they just have to be financially independent. According to a Nov. 5 statement from IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, they have to be considered a qualifying taxpayer — meaning they can't be claimed as an dependent on someone else's tax return. "College students in particular should be careful not to overlook these payments if they’re supporting themselves and can’t be claimed as a dependent on someone’s tax returns,” Rettig said. “A few minutes of research could really help students,” he added. Combined with $1,200 in aid from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March, qualifying college students may be eligible to claim a total of $1,800 in stimulus funds in 2020, as long as they're self-supporting.
However, even for the students who can claim the stimulus, these highly-regulated relief measures simply aren't enough to cover food, housing, textbooks, tuition, WiFi, and other academic expenses. In fact, colleges and universities across the country continue to increase their tuition rates — even as on-campus housing and amenities have closed and more students are taking online classes.
Although President-elect Joe Biden assures the country this new COVID-19 stimulus bill is merely a "down payment" as he pushes for more relief in 2021, many Americans are still worried about how they'll continue to deal with the ongoing fallout of the pandemic.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Elite Daily's coverage of coronavirus here.