By ANA FIERROS
COVID-19, college administrations and our government have economically duped college students.
After the extreme rise in COVID-19 cases in the United States, universities and colleges across the nation have closed their doors for the remainder of the semester. Students who paid for an entire semester and even went into debt trying to cover the costs of attendance will likely not get a refund for what they paid.
Students have lost work study jobs that they use to help pay for things outside of school. I had to be let go from my work study job because they couldn’t manage to keep me on board with the changing school schedule, though I was lucky enough to be onboarded as a regular employee.
This is not the case for most college students. Ohio University is struggling to find new work for about 6,200 students who hold jobs on campus, which is now closed until further notice. Some colleges like New York University will continue to pay students through the end of the semester as a commitment to aiding students in their transition from face-to-face classes to online learning.
Many college students depend on the campus as their home. Now that campuses are closing and students are forced to go back home, the emotional trauma takes a toll on students. Liz Oquita offered up her home in Tucson to her fellow classmates at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She said her home was open to anyone who didn’t feel safe going home or those who had nowhere to go in the first place.
The nation sighed with relief when the House of Representatives passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or “CARES” act. The act contains $2.2 trillion in total to provide financial relief for businesses, public institutions and individuals that are being financially threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic. The act will contain a $1,200 check or deposit for all of those in the United States with a Social Security number.
The check, however, will not be arriving for students who are under 24 and are still being filed as dependents on their parents taxes. The act also includes an extra $500 per dependant, but it does not apply for dependents 18 and up. This leaves students who are not supported by their parents with no extra support from the government. It also doesn’t help families with more mouths to feed who are too old to count for the bonuses.
This month alone college students all over the United States have been moved to inadequate online classes with professors who have not been properly trained to teach online curriculums. Students have been evicted from their dorms and/or stuck in bad leases with no way to pay rent. Many were refused tuition refunds and were left out of the biggest relief stipend in the history of this country.
College students have bills, too. Many college students work full time while going to school full time to make ends meet: 40 percent of undergraduate students and 76 percent of graduate students work at least 30 hours a week, according to a report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
And 42% of independent students were considered to be in poverty, according to a research conducted by the Pew Research Center. They’ve paid taxes, tuition, rent and utilities. Their needs were ignored by Congress. They excluded one of the poorest demographics while they go through emotional and financial turmoil. Not to mention undocumented students who have paid taxes for years and will not be receiving any aid because they do not have Social Security numbers.
This pandemic has taken a lot from the world. As the spread of COVID-19 reaches its peak (experts during President Donald Trump’s press conference held on March 29 said the peak of diagnosis will happen in two weeks), people are already beginning to lose their jobs. This is especially true for college students, whose jobs are deemed inessential. Despite this, there will be no aid for students who are still dependents.
College students are taking action by contacting their state officials and school administrators to demand aid. Like refunds on the parts of their tuition that won’t be used for the remainder of the semester. Ethan Smith started a petition on Change.org addressing senators and hoping to get dependent students added to the stimulus bill.
This is all students can do for now. If you’d like to sign Smith’s petition, go to: STIMULUS CHECKS FOR DEPENDENTS