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College students benefit from latest stimulus package

Illustration by Mattheau Faught/The Et Cetera

College students who were not eligible to receive the first two rounds of stimulus checks received the third. Now they have to decide what to do with the money.

“This stimulus check will help me with tuition, car debt . . . and supplies,” Alexis Godinez, a veterinary technology major at Cedar Valley, said. “Then I’ll save some for future emergencies.”  

Because Godinez lives with her parents, she did not receive the first two stimulus checks.

The first two rounds of stimulus checks, distributed in April 2020 and January 2021 as part of coronavirus relief packages, were only for adults or dependent children up to 16 years old. Students claimed as dependents on their parents’ income tax did not qualify, according to the IRS website. 

The third stimulus check, signed into law by President Joe Biden in March as part of the American Rescue Plan, makes adult dependents, including college students, eligible to receive up to $1,400.  

“I am going to use half of the check for things I need like groceries,” Amber Avila, a diagnostic sonography major at El Centro, said. “The other half, I plan to save it up just in case things end up closing again or get worse. I plan to keep adding more into my savings.” 

In addition to the stimulus checks, college students can qualify for emergency aid from their institution. The stimulus package provided nearly $40 billion as part of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, and colleges are responsible for spending half on emergency financial aid grants. 

Dallas College received nearly $95 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, according to the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities website.   

College students who have children may receive money in the form of the child tax credit included in the American Rescue Plan. Parents of children under 6 years old will begin to receive $300 per child in July at least until the end of the year. If the child is 6-17 then the parents will receive $250 per child. 

Some college students who didn’t get the first two stimulus checks still received unemployment through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act signed by President Donald Trump in March 2020. 

Godinez said receiving unemployment helped her family. 

“I feel like my family was one of the lucky ones,” she said. “We made more unemployment than my actual job.” 

Even though parents supporting college students received the first two stimulus payments, some still struggled financially.

Jacqueline Fabela, a psychology major at Eastfield, said her father is the only one in the family who is employed. She said the stimulus checks helped them pay bills and buy food.

“My family has been in the middle of a financial struggle since the start of the pandemic,” she said. “My father did not go to work for weeks. Now he tries to get as many opportunities as he can, but it just depends on if people call him into work,”
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