For the first time, some Central Texas college students may be eligible for a COVID-19 stimulus check

Coronavirus

The money could be a lifeline for many

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Some college students are hopeful as Congress debates another COVID-19 relief bill, because for the first time, they’d be eligible for stimulus checks.

According to NBC News, if passed, the $1.9 trillion package would provide the third and biggest round of payments.

Parents would be able to get $1,400 for every child on their tax returns. For the first time, that would include adult dependents, like those with permanent disabilities or college students.

“I grew up in a low-income family,” said Texas State University senior Matthew Gonzales. “I always told them, you know, families like ours who are brown or black, some of us, we have to go into debt in order to break the cycle.”

Gonzales knew he’d have to support himself through college, but that became a lot harder when the pandemic hit, and he lost his retail job.

“I was even late on credit cards and stuff like that. I had to get one closed and then eventually pay on it,” he said.

Matthew Gonzales (left) says both his parents had to take time off of work after contracting COVID-19, also putting them in financial hardship. (Photo courtesy Matthew Gonzales)

He and his fiancé, also a college student, didn’t qualify for the first two stimulus checks.

“It was kind of like, ‘Man, like why am I being left out solely, because I’m a college student, and you know my parents had the opportunity to claim me on their taxes? Despite the fact that I’m still paying my own taxes,'” Gonzales said.

Now, Congress may be including adult children — like college students — in the next payments.

But many Republicans, like Texas Sen. John Cornyn, are working to pare down what would be the biggest round of COVID-19 checks.

“I think there may be some ways to trim some of the more ridiculous, and it’s wasteful spending, in the bill that remains to be seen,” Cornyn said on Thursday.

Gonzales hopes they don’t forget about students like him.

“We’re a big population that was left out of that stimulus check, and it left a lot of us, I know a lot of my friends didn’t return this semester, just so that they can work on getting their finances stabilized,” he said.

He ended up taking a full-time job to make ends meet, but it took a toll on the full-time student: He ended up failing a class during the fall semester trying to juggle his work and study hours.

“On average, I was putting in about 46 hours a week to afford everything and pay for everything,” Gonzales said.

He says a stimulus check may still be a lifeline for others.

“It could have been solved or it could have been fixed, had we been included in those original solutions, and so really it’s just hopefully in the future, we can prevent those situations,” Gonzales said.

If the $1.9 trillion relief bill passes and becomes law, most eligible Americans would get a $1,400 stimulus check, compared to the $600 payments in December and $1,200 last March.

Other financial help for college students

A spokesperson for Texas State University said more than 8,000 students impacted by COVID-19 will receive about $800 in aid through the school’s Bobcat CARES program for spring 2021.

The university also announced new aid Friday through a $1.5 million re-skilling grant. The money will go toward helping up to 1,000 former students finish college. You can find more information on financial help here.

Austin Community College says it’s seen more students reach out for financial support during the pandemic to continue their education and career training.

A spokesperson says the college launched several new programs to support those students, including through the new federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRSSA) Act Student Aid.

She says during the first week of applications, the college gave out about $5.6 million to more than 3,300 students.

Applications are still open for eligible students who are enrolled in classes this semester, and funds will be available for summer and fall semesters. You can find more information here.

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