As students are forced out of residence halls and states close non-essential businesses, opportunities for students to earn income have shrunk.
Students still need to pay for their rent, groceries and other items to help themselves and their families stay afloat during the pandemic. The federal government offered a bit of financial assistance, but officials need to do more to help students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an attempt to ease the economic burden of COVID-19, federal officials approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. It allocated $2 trillion toward individuals, big corporations, small businesses, state and local governments, public health, education and food stamp and child nutrition programs. The bill also included a $1,200 payment to adults who earn less than $75,000 per year and a $500 credit to households per dependent under 17 years old.
Many college students are over the age of 17 but are still considered dependents on their parent’s tax returns. The CARES Act did not do enough to include student workers who rely on their jobs to get by. The legislation should have sent checks to students who are dependents and make less than $75,000, and the federal government should provide additional relief to students who need to pay rent but are not at school.
Working students over or under 17 years old should receive a check even if they still depend on their family. Many students are working because they need the money to support themselves or their families and may work in service jobs that have now laid off thousands of employees. These students still have expenses and could use some extra funds to help support themselves and their families. Their families might be able to support them to an extent, but many students are still out of work and expected to finance their own things.
Government officials still have a chance to alleviate some financial stress. They could freeze rent hikes to ensure students do not need to pay more for apartments they are not living in. The government could also suspend evictions nationwide so students unable to pay their rent do not have to worry about being evicted from apartments they might not even live in right now. Expanding these policies nationwide will help reduce one of the largest financial burdens that students face. Even if renters are unable to pay their rent because they have lost their jobs, rent hike freezes and eviction suspensions would provide temporary stability.
While students are struggling to stay afloat, universities are struggling to keep the lights on. The legislation did not do enough to help college students and it did not allocate enough money to higher education institutions. College funding was distributed based on full-time undergraduate enrollment and full-time Pell Grant recipients, but GW will not receive enough money to help students and operate within its normal budget. The University is expected to lose $25 million and could lose more as GW shuts down summer housing and moves summer classes online and prepares to refund international students who might not make it to campus this fall.
The federal government does have a chance to improve on future bills because the initial bill was designed to cover three months, which will extend until July. If the situation lasts longer than three months, the government should provide more financial assistance to college students and give higher-educational institutions greater relief.
COVID-19 has been hard on everyone, but some people received help from the federal government while students did not. Students who have lost wages because of COVID-19 should receive checks from the government, and their housing should be protected. The government can also help students by allocating more funds to colleges and universities, which are struggling to bounce back from lost revenue.
The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Kiran Hoeffner-Shah and contributing opinions editor Hannah Thacker based on conversations with The Hatchet’s editorial board, which is composed of copy editor Natalie Prieb, managing director Leah Potter, design editor Olivia Columbus, sports editor Emily Maise and culture editor Sidney Lee.
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