By Jenny Marcinkowski
President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act yesterday, granting more Covid-19 relief to Americans struggling financially. Unlike previous Covid-19 relief bills, college students and dependents ages 17 to 24 may qualify for $1,400 stimulus checks.
“I think that students qualifying for the $1,400 stimulus checks can be looked at as an opportunity. Students can use the money to pay for textbooks, groceries or something to relieve their stress after a long week of midterms,” said Rebecca Morrow, a junior urban education and psychology double major.
The American Rescue Plan was passed in the Senate on a party-line vote with Vice President Kamala Harris joining the Democrats and two Independents. The bill then went back to the House for a final vote, which was passed on March 10. The stimulus check in the bill will be the largest given to Americans during the pandemic, the first being $1,200 last March followed by the most recent $600 stimulus check in December.
A new addition to the bill is adult dependents being able to qualify for the stimulus checks. An adult dependent is anyone over the age of 16 who was claimed as a dependent under the most recent tax return. Under the previous two bills, nearly 13.5 million adult dependents were not eligible for the checks, which alarmed many college students and recent graduates.
Unemployment caused by the pandemic coupled with rising student debt and no financial assistance has sparked petitions to raise awareness. One Change.org petition asking the Senate to include adult dependents in the second round of stimulus checks garnered over 145,000 signatures.
“I no longer qualify for unemployment, so this $1,400 stimulus check will be really beneficial for me. I think allowing college students to receive the same amount as their parents is important because a lot of us have lost our jobs since the pandemic started and we deserve some sort of financial support,” said Jamie St. Andrews, a freshman undeclared major.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released the rates of unemployment by age for February 2021 and those aged 16 to 24 are unemployed at a much higher rate than any other age group. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the total amount of student loans owed was $1.7 trillion, which is a 3.7% increase from the previous year.
“These stimulus checks are going to be really helpful for students who lost their jobs over the past year and for those who recently graduated from college who are struggling to find a job. I know too many who wish they could have gotten a stimulus check in the previous Covid bills, but didn’t qualify so I’m glad they decided to include them in this round,” said Nadia DiGioia, a freshman nursing major.
Those eligible for the $1400 stimulus checks are individuals who make up to $75,000 a year and couples making $150,000 a year. These payments would zero-out for individuals making $80,000 and couples making $160,000. This is a contrast to the originally proposed bill which had payments stopping for individuals making $100,000 and couples who made $200,000.
“Since the cost of textbooks is so high, I plan on saving my stimulus check so I can use it in the upcoming semester on books and other supplies,” said DiGioia.