In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, college students across the nation have been sent home in order to protect themselves and others. For college students residing in Michigan, this means abiding by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order, stating that people must stay in their homes and only leave for essential purposes.
Since students cannot be on campus anymore, most are unable to make their usual income provided by on-campus jobs. The school year, however, is still in full swing, meaning that summer internships and other job positions haven’t started yet.
In an article published on Tuesday by Fox News Detroit, Whitmer said that the number of people applying for benefits in recent weeks “outpaces any – even the toughest week in the great recession.”
With the economy taking a hit, many nonessential workers who aren’t able to work from home are being laid off, such as workers in the automotive industry, contractors and those who work for small businesses.
“The hardest week in the great recession had 77,000 claims,” said Whitmer. “Two weeks prior to the COVID-19 first presenting in Michigan, we were averaging about 5,000 claims per week. Now, since COVID-19 the week of March 15 to the 21, there were 127,000 new claims. The week of March 22 through 28, it was 300,000 new claims.”
On March 27, the federal government enacted a two trillion-dollar economic stimulus package that will send a stimulus check to some American adults.
A stimulus check is a check sent to taxpayers from the government. The intent is to keep the economy flowing by providing taxpayers some spending money to use at local businesses in the hopes of keeping the economy afloat.
Each adult will receive up to a $1,200 stimulus check based on salary. The more people make, the less the check will be. Additionally, for people with children, each child under the age of sixteen will add $500 to the stimulus check.
College students who are still a dependent on their parents’ tax forms, however, do not qualify to receive any compensation. College students don’t count as children, either, since they are over the age of sixteen. Thus, parents with college age students do not qualify for the $500 bonus on their stimulus checks.
“I think it’s unfair that young people are being almost completely left out of the stimulus checks,” said Sarah Britton, a senior from Royal Oak, Mich. “If the government isn’t giving checks to dependents, then they should compensate their parents like they are doing for families with children under sixteen. I also think that young people are some that needed the money the most since we are the ones with low paying, unstable jobs.”
This leaves many college students who lost their jobs in a tough position. Some students have more bills to pay on their own on top of their college tuition, something very difficult to do with no income.
“What if they are financially independent?” asked Aliera Konnet, a senior from East Lansing, Mich.
This is a question many other students are asking as well. Some students are financially independent from their parents, meaning that they don’t require or have financial support from their parents, but in order to qualify for financial aid, they are claimed as dependents on their parents’ tax forms.
After leaving out many college students, legislators are trying to find a solution to this problem. One solution would be to extend the $500 child bonus to college students and others not included in the original legislation as well. Legislators will be meeting within the next month in part to decide whether or not this change will be added to the stimulus bill.