Stuck in the Middle: how Coronavirus Impacted College Students
Stuck in the Middle: How Coronavirus has Impacted College Students
There was no way for the average person to prepare for what was ahead. The world as we knew it came to a screeching halt.
College students across the country found themselves devastated and quite frankly, ignored. Like many people, their plans were cut short or cancelled altogether. There were no more classes, no formals, no more studying in the library and no graduation. While these all seem minuscule in the grand scheme of things, they were important to the individuals involved.
Campuses closing and classes moving online forced college students to move home. Despite potentially being in the middle of a 12-month lease, the removal of campus resources created a roadblock to students who relied on them.
Among the many effects of the coronavirus, businesses were being forced to shut down normal operation, leaving the United States at astronomical unemployment levels. According to the Department of Labor, Georgia itself is at a 4.2% unemployment rate and the unemployment insurance initial claims were at 312,520. In the week of April 11 there were 16,339,149 people on unemployment benefits nationwide. That number was up by more than three million from the previous week, and the same week in 2019 only had 1,731,181. As unemployment rose, the federal government implemented a $2 trillion stimulus plan to help relieve Americans, especially those struggling to support themselves during the pandemic.
This all sounded great, in theory. The plan of action was to send $1,200 to Americans for support during a worldwide pandemic, plus an additional $500 for every child aged 16 and under.
But you know who was left out of the equation? Adults claimed as dependents.
Whether they were struggling or not, many college students and recent graduates learned they were not included on the list of people receiving help from the stimulus package.
All around, it seems as though young adults were forgotten, and no one is talking about that.
Mariana Calle, a 22-year-old senior at Kennesaw State University, was claimed as a dependent despite supporting herself since she was 17.
“I do not think the bill was completely fair because parents can claim their children as dependents even if they do not support their children, and since it is a tax write-off, I am sure a lot of people did that,” she said. “I am lucky enough that I can support myself, but there are a lot of people that are not in that same boat. People don’t have jobs and the only ones they can find are ones that require you to risk your life.”
Ashley Hope, 24, has been working at a state agency, the Georgia Forestry Commission, for six years. Her hours got cut in half since COVID-19 hit the United States. Since she lives at home, her mom claimed her as a dependent. However, she pays her own car note, insurance, and phone bill.
Like many in Hope’s position, she is feeling the repercussions of being left out of the stimulus bill.
“I had to call my bank and get them to pause my car payments because I literally can’t pay them,” she says.
Hope expressed her issues with her employer as well. She stated they are not offering any kind of hazard pay, not requiring them to use any proper sanitation protocol outside of flyers telling them to wash their hands, and she feels as if no help has been offered to them whatsoever.
“I am a state employee, and they cut our hours and I am not getting any help. I’ll survive, but I feel like if you pay taxes, no matter who claims you, unless you’re under 18, then you should get the check.”
“Basically I feel like I don’t exist,” she told Avant Youth (AY).
Hope isn’t alone in feeling this way. Many young Americans are struggling to make ends meet as we all try to navigate a new reality, and no one is talking about it.
If you have the ability to help, the Student Relief Fund was created to help college students facing homelessness and hunger. To help out college students in need across the country, visit https://www.studentrelieffund.org/.