Sophomore Maeve Reilly is in financial limbo.
She works at a grocery store, a job deemed essential in the middle of a pandemic. This gives her money to be independent, to pay for costs like food, rent and tuition.
She’s taking on the burden of risking her health to work while also being a student, but because her parents claimed her as a dependent on their 2019 tax return, she doesn’t get a stimulus check to supplement her hard work.
“It was feelings of frustration when I was working to help provide food and stuff for people, but I wasn’t getting any help from the government, who I was helping in the long run,” Reilly said.
She’s not the only student who hasn’t received a stimulus check. Nearly two-thirds of college students report their financial situation has become more stressful since the pandemic began, according to the American College Health Association.
Although approximately 159 million Americans received a stimulus check in 2020, most college students weren’t included.
The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to move forward with a budget resolution to allow President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion dollar stimulus package to move through Congress. The plan could make dependents over age 17 eligible for stimulus checks.
According to CNBC, the proposed plan includes $1,400 stimulus checks, increasing from the $600 sent in early January. Under the Trump administration’s policy, households received an additional $600 for each child in a household claimed as a dependent, but only dependents under 17 were eligible. This left many adult students still claimed by their parents as dependents without the aid many other Americans received.
However, Biden’s plan could give adult dependents stimulus money if passed, potentially providing some financial relief for college students.
IU sophomore Sebastian Moats said he hoped to receive a check, but did not because he was claimed as a dependent.
“I pay taxes, I’m trying to do good and better myself, and it just kind of feels like a slap in the face that I’m not getting support even though I’m legally an adult,” Moats said.
Reilly said she thinks older generations don’t understand that college is more expensive than in the past, and students need more help to get by.
“The process has changed so much since other people have been in college that they may not realize, but we can't simply make all the money for college in one summer,” she said.
Junior Andrea Vidaurre, who has received both stimulus checks, said she also thinks the system is unfair.
Since she wasn’t claimed as a dependent, Vidaurre received both the initial $1,200 check in April 2020 and the $600 payment in January. She said she was grateful for the help but thinks those over 18 should receive assistance regardless if they are a dependent.
Biden’s plan is heavily debated among lawmakers. Some congressional lawmakers from both political sides think the money should be better targeted to low-income individuals and families, according to the Washington Post.
IU economics professor Gerhard Glomm said he thinks it’s irresponsible to send stimulus checks to families who aren’t in need of money and have secure jobs.
He said paying off student debt, for example, is not a well-targeted use of the money because ideally, people should spend the stimulus checks soon after they get them to help boost the economy.
Vidaurre said she urges lawmakers to take student needs seriously.
“A lot of college students are financially responsible for themselves,” Vidaurre said. “Even if they might not have kids to pay for or a family to provide for, our jobs have definitely been limited, and we shouldn't be overlooked.”