VCU students say they’d benefit from federal stimulus check, tuition reimbursement

Illustration by Marisa Stratton

Anya Sczerzenie, Contributing Writer

Some VCU students are upset that they have been left out of one of the biggest stimulus packages in U.S. history, a $2 trillion dollar bipartisan relief bill passed by Congress to help Americans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The plan will extend unemployment benefits to people who can’t work because of the coronavirus and give a payment of $1,200 to most adults, although people with adjusted gross incomes above $75,000 will get a reduced amount. Parents with children 16 and younger will get an additional $500 per child. 

People whose parents claim them as dependents on their taxes, however, will not receive a payment from the relief program. According to the IRS, a dependent generally must be younger than 19, but a dependent who is a student can be claimed on their parents’ taxes until they are 24.

Sarah Hadi, a chemical engineering sophomore who isn’t eligible for a payment through the plan, says a stimulus check could have helped her and her siblings buy new computer monitors for college and graduate school.

“I honestly feel like college students could’ve benefited from the stimulus considering VCU and other schools aren’t refunding back tuition,” Hadi said. “Thank God my internship is still paying me to work remotely. But I know personally that everyone in college could benefit from a check like that, whatever they choose to do with it.”

College Democrats of America, a nationwide political student organization, released a statement asking Congress to provide a relief package for college students who are claimed as dependents. CDA president Mikaela Guido said the package should benefit those who lost on-campus jobs, fellowships and other income opportunities. 

The statement noted many students still have to pay tuition and haven’t received refunds for on-campus housing. VCU stated on its COVID-19 site that tuition and mandatory fees, including library and technology fees, will not be refunded. The university is expected to release more information regarding reimbursements on Thursday.

Emma North, a senior journalism major and former news writer at The Commonwealth Times, said she will not receive a stimulus check and thinks the government needs to do more.

“My parents still claim me as a dependent even though a lot of my expenses are covered by loans or my own money. I am disappointed that the majority of students aren’t eligible for the stimulus, because most students could use the money for important school expenses or to get by without their part-time jobs.” – Emma North, journalism student

Students who are financially independent from their parents and file their taxes separately will receive payments. 

Parisa Fallah, a junior communications art major, says she is financially independent from her parents and expects to receive a payment from the government as an independent.

“I’m actually part of the small portion of students that files independently so I’m not negatively impacted by the stimulus package like many others,” Fallah said. “I do think it’s unfair that a majority of college students won’t receive any help though.”

The stimulus package will suspend student loan payments until Sept. 30th, and relief payments are expected to be distributed within the next three weeks.

People without social security numbers, including undocumented immigrants, will not receieve a payment from the bill. People who are currently receiving social security or disability checks will receive payment in addition to pre-existing federal funds.

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