Will students be getting stimulus checks? What you need to know about COVID-19 relief


Got stimulus questions? Us too. Here’s some FAQ on one of the more confusing government buzz topics.

If you haven’t heard, the federal government approved two rounds of stimulus checks to aid Americans that were financially hit by the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic that included shutdowns causing an economic recession in a previously booming economy. 

What did previous stimulus checks look like? 

The first round, distributed in early April through the CARES Act, included $1,200 checks for individuals with a gross income of $75,000 and $2,400 for couples earning below $150,000, as well as $600 for filers with dependents under 17. 

The second round of stimulus checks came out early January and included $1,200 for single adults with a gross income of $75,000 or less, plus $500 for each child under 16. Married couples earning $150,000 or less received $2,400.

The difference between recipients of the first and the second checks is that the government used 2018 tax filing information to determine eligible recipients the first round, but used 2019 tax information for the second.

More importantly, will students get a stimulus check?

This is where things get a little fuzzy. Most college students are claimed as dependents on their parents taxes. Parents of dependents under 17 are eligible for a $600 check. However, dependents 17 and older are out of luck for both rounds. Typically, students under 24 are considered dependents if a parent pays for at least half of their expenses.

While some have suggested refiling as a single adult to try to claim a previous stimulus check, proceed with caution: if you receive aid through the FAFSA, changing your filing status could affect what you get there, and it may not be worth it. If you’re considering this, talk to a tax professional, not TikTok. 

Looks like I’m getting one, so when can I expect my stimulus?

Congrats! Most checks went out in mid-April. You should check out this page from the IRS for more info on that.

Do I need to apply for a stimulus check?

Nope! If the IRS already has your bank account information from your 2019 or 2018 tax return, the money will be transferred via direct deposit based on the recent income tax figures it already has.

Could there be a third round of stimulus checks?

President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, the American Rescue Plan, proposes a third round of increased stimulus checks of $1,400 for most Americans. The plan is still being debated in Congress. Republicans are pushing for lower checks of $1,000 targeted to lower-income households, while Democrats push for a larger stimulus package. Additionally, Biden’s ideal plan would allow eligibility for some college students, including those claimed as dependents. However, his plan could be altered as Congressional debates continue.

Whatever the size, it could be mid- to late March before checks start rolling out. If the package is passed by the end of March, checks could start hitting bank accounts by early April.

Copy Desk Chief Hannah Crisp can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @hnhelizabeth