College Students Now Eligible for Stimulus Payments

The passing of a new stimulus package has many students excited, considering they were not eligible for payments under previous relief packages.

Drake University students can now receive $1400 in stimulus payments after the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act was passed last week, something that did not occur with previous stimulus packages.

In the new act, students that are listed as dependents under their parents can receive $1400 payments. In previous pandemic relief packages, these students were ineligible for payments and could only receive money if they were financially independent, meaning they provided more than 50% of their own financial support.

Drake University sophomore Ben Mowat said he is excited for the payments and is surprised they have not happened earlier.

“It was ridiculous that they didn’t have it before. If the goal stimulus is to stimulate the economy, it’s not all that helpful going to people who are going to put in their retirement funds.

The experts I’ve been listening to and hearing about say that we really do need to add money to the economy,” Mowat said.

In a recent poll conducted by Reuters, 90% of economists said the new stimulus package will help “boost the economy significantly.” In the same poll, 87% of economists said the economy will reach its pre-pandemic levels within one year.

Sophomore Danny Langworthy said he had concerns about the debt the U.S. is building and that the funds could possibly be used more efficiently.

“Initially I thought it was a good thing, but from my understanding the checks get paid to the parents, rather than the students themselves. Whether or not the parents are supporting the students, that’s not really known. So I don’t necessarily agree with it. Maybe if it was sent to the dependents that are 18 or older, I might support it,” Langworthy said.

Parents will often claim their children as dependents for tax benefit purposes, regardless if they are financially dependent or not. This means many students that pay for their own education were not eligible for the payments before.

Brian Etzenhouser, a junior at Drake, said the new act is important because “there are also students who are claimed as dependents, but then they pay for all of their college and all their other expenses. I think that it’s tough for them if their parents don’t just give them the $1400.”

Stimulus payments for dependents are currently being sent to parents. Langworthy said he was concerned that parents may not pass those funds onto their children.

Jane Farmer, a senior at Drake, said, “College is expensive and obviously there were not a lot of ways to get rid of those expenses. I know the CARES Act was really helpful for a lot of people, and the college made it easy to access those funds, so that was a good thing. Obviously, if everything could be done all over again, I would hope there would be more financial support for people who have really struggled over the past year.”

Etzenhouser said the CARES Act was helpful for lots of education expenses but is glad the new stimulus reaches beyond that.

Drake students have had access to money to assist with expenses related to education through the CARES Act that was passed in late March 2020. Students could receive up to $6000 in payments.

“Hopeful we can all use this experience in the future because I think people probably wish that we could have done more earlier,” Farmer said.

Mowat said the pandemic has just highlighted the issues that already existed and more change, including an increase in minimum wage, is needed going forward.

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