Stimulus checks have been a topic of discussion for the past few months as we deal with a teetering economy in the wake of COVID-19. As the initial buzz wore off, many college students realized they would not receive one. Seems unfair, right? We study, we work, we pay our own way. Well, the answer is that those over the age of 17 that are claimed as a dependent on their parent's taxes are ineligible. For example, as a 20 year old college student, I was still claimed as a dependent on my parent's taxes because I do not work full time and they still pay for most of my expenses. Does that mean I don't need financial help when I was unexpectedly sent home from university and left paying rent for an apartment that I don't even live in?
We had classes canceled, dorms shut down, and even some job offers rescinded. Tell me how it is fair that we were the only group not helped. I, like other college students, have worked since I was 15, I have filed taxes and done everything I needed to do but still did not receive a check because I was "claimed". I am lucky to have generous parents who were willing to share some of their stimulus check with me to help with my expenses, but others are not so fortunate. I am not naïve to the fact that I am in a fortunate situation having parents who make sure my needs are met and who are still employed during COVID-19, but many other college students are not so lucky.
As college students, our lives were uprooted in the span of a week. We were forced into online classes with professors who were also new to online learning - much frustration on both parties ensued. We were forced to go home and play an indefinite guessing game of what was to come of our academic future. Is this the new normal?
Luckily my parents could take off work and help me move my stuff back home; leaving school so abruptly was a surreal experience. When I left for spring break there was not even a thought that I would not be living in my apartment for the rest of the semester. I never thought that going to class that friday before would be my last time walking the campus of ECU. It was a sad day. So not only are we college students going through financial struggles, but most of us are struggling mentally too. We have gone through a lot. I feel so bad for the students who were going to study abroad for the summer. Not only did they have to leave campus early but their trips were canceled too. The students of ECU were pretty fortunate in my opinion because the university decided to refund some money to go towards unused meal plan money and residence halls since everything had to shut down.
As I reflect on my experiences of the past few months I find myself in an opportune moment of introspection. While I am not seen as an autonomous adult in the eyes of the US Government, I have learned that hardship and unexpected events build character. We are resilient, strong, and worth a lot more than $1200 (although, a check would be nice).