Many college students aren’t eligible for stimulus checks. Here’s how they feel about it.


Emily Girard

As a response to economic issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government passed the CARES Act. One purpose of this act is to provide stimulus checks to taxpayers—however, many college students are finding themselves left out of this plan.

“I think they were playing a numbers game, since most college students are dependent, both tax-wise and realistically—they can be more dependent on their family units,” said sophomore Garrison Page, a mechanical engineering major. “They kind of get aid in the beginning, but now that we’re in crisis mode, that aid’s not helping as much as if they were at college,” he said.

The CARES Act states that people filing independent tax returns in a certain income bracket will receive $1200, and dependents over 17 will receive $500, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. However, many college students are still claimed as dependents on their parents’ tax returns, despite being over 17. As a result, even if these students live on their own, they find themselves ineligible for stimulus checks.

“College students should be able to get stimulus checks regardless of them being on their parents’ tax return,” said UK freshman Hali Laurino. “They need financial help paying for their courses…and their tuition and everything.”

Congressman Andy Barr is the representative for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, which includes UK.  His press secretary Alex Bellizzi said that the act was formulated solely from a tax perspective.

“There is nothing that prohibits a college student from receiving a stimulus check just because they are a student,” Bellizzi said. “If the student is not claimed as a dependent, they must be financially independent from their parents…[and] they would receive their own stimulus checks. If the student is not financially independent, the tax exemptions/deductions/credits accrue to the parents.”

Bellizzi also said that approximately $30 billion was distributed to colleges and universities, and over half of these funds should directly benefit students. UK plans to distribute $8.9 million in emergency grants, and students can apply for grants of up to $1500 through their myUK portals. 

In the meantime, many students are struggling with the lack of aid. Arion Jett-Seals, UK’s basic needs coordinator, says that she has received many requests for emergency assistance, mostly with rent and groceries.

“Many students’ basic need insecurities could have been resolved if they received stimulus checks,” she said. “We would have less students in immediate crisis when they reach out for assistance.”

Sophomore Katherine Holden, who studies mechanical engineering and environmental studies, lives with her grandparents in Bardstown, Kentucky. She is ineligible for a stimulus check despite being the only one in her house who is currently working. 

“The tax season that we filed for, I wasn’t working. We had already filed a 2019 tax [return] before they even released anything about the stimulus checks, and now I wish we didn’t,” Holden said. 

Though Holden said that her income and her grandfather’s pension check is enough to support her family, she is worried about a future economic depression. She also expressed a desire for a more comprehensive support system for those who are out of work.

“I would make more on unemployment, but I can’t get unemployment if I quit my job,” she said. “I’m a citizen of this country, you know? I pay income tax…I’m the reason that everyone is able to get what they need.”