The Daily Gamecock

Column: College students need stimulus checks

<p>Fourth-year chemical engineering major Mary Wilson works as a library ambassador in the Thomas Cooper Library. A large portion of college students are not eligible to receive the next round of stimulus checks.&nbsp;</p>

Fourth-year chemical engineering major Mary Wilson works as a library ambassador in the Thomas Cooper Library. A large portion of college students are not eligible to receive the next round of stimulus checks. 

College students need a stimulus check. Many students have to work their way through school and are independent, self-sufficient adults. They are not exempt from the pandemic, and so should not be exempt from receiving financial help. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act makes it difficult for many college students to qualify for federal assistance. But, whether you attend online or in-person, college is expensive.

While it is normal for a lot of students to hold jobs to pay for college while enrolled in school, according to research by Georgetown University, students working full-time at the federal minimum wage only earn about $15,080 annually, before taxes. With the cost of college today, that is not enough to cover school and any other expenses. It is also problematic that some students have to work 40 hours a week, on top of having a full course load. 

Apart from students not making a livable wage, full-time jobs can also interfere with their academic performance. According to CNBC, about 59% of low-income students who were working 15 hours or more per week did not have enough time for their assignments, which resulted in lower grades. The problem is that a lot of students depend on financial aid to pay for tuition; these scholarships might require students to maintain a specific GPA. 

In South Carolina, a common scholarship is the LIFE scholarship, which you can receive for up to eight semesters as long as you maintain a 3.00 GPA. Along with the GPA requirement, you must also earn 30 credit hours per year, which can be difficult for students who work full-time jobs. 

In addition to struggling financially, students may also be at risk for losing the financial aid that helps get them through college. The adjustments that students had to make throughout 2020 were unimaginable, and the least this country could do to help is to give them financial assistance, because they deserve and need it just as much as the rest of America does. 

Though it was infeasible for students to live on minimum wage before, it has only gotten harder now because of the state of our country. Between having to move back home and adjusting to online classes, there have been several drastic, unexpected changes for college students. 

According to CBS News, many college students have been struggling due to the loss of campus jobs — which are the only source of income for some. Switching or finding a new job is not the easiest thing to do, especially now that the pandemic has shut so much down.

According to CNBC, 18.6% of people between the ages of 16 and 24 are unemployed. Many college students fall within that age range, and are still eligible to be claimed as dependents by their parents. Unfortunately, one criterion for receiving the stimulus check is that you cannot be claimed as a dependent. If your parents do claim you, they only receive additional assistance if you classify as a child, which the tax code defines as anyone under 17. As many college students classified are as dependents but not as children, they could be completely exempted from financial assistance. 

It is unethical for college students to be left out of this assistance because, though some students might be fortunate enough to have a family to depend on back home, others are not. If students lose their jobs and have to live on their own, there is not much they can do to help themselves. 

Students are living through this pandemic along with everyone else, so they should be granted the stimulus check too. 


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