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Explaining Stimulus Eligibility

Leniya Morrow, features editor

A $1.9 trillion dollar bill known as The American Rescue Plan passed the Senate last weekend. Biden still needs to sign off on the bill in order to initiate payments but has claimed that he wants to send stimulus payments out as early as this month. Individuals who make $75,000 or less will qualify for the full $1,400. This bill also adds an extra $300 to unemployment benefits, as well as increasing money for schools and vaccine distribution.

Many college students were disqualified from receiving the past two stimulus checks in 2020 due to falling under the category of adult dependents, someone that was claimed under their parent or guardian’s taxes. This can be especially disheartening to those that have supported themselves throughout the pandemic. Dependents, according to the IRS, are children “aged 19 years or younger or a student under the age of 24 years old.” The federal definition notes that people claiming dependents should pay “50% or more of the dependents living expenses.” 

Things can get tricky when talking about dependents. The stimulus last year allowed households to receive credit for dependents that were minors. However, this credit did not apply for adult dependents, leaving them without a check and households without that extra compensation.

The new bill seeks to give individuals credit for all claimed dependents. In Biden’s most recent edition of the bill, adult dependents are eligible for a stimulus check, but not in the way most hoped. Eligibility entails that tax filers can receive an additional $1400 for adult dependents as well. This means that if a student is claimed on someone else’s taxes, the $1400 will not go to the dependent, but the tax filer claiming them. 

Eligibility also relies on your most recent tax information. Filing your 2020 tax return as an independent can not only make you eligible for the third stimulus, but you could also receive $1800 for the missed stimulus. The recovery rebate credit allows those who missed stimulus payments in 2020 to receive them on their tax refund. If you are able to qualify for rebate credit, you will most likely receive the $1400 payments.  It is important to note that, without an updated tax return, eligibility will be based on past information, which may disqualify you from receiving this round of payment. If you think that you might be eligible, it is advised to update your tax information as soon as possible. I have gone through this process myself and it has eliminated a lot of confusion. 

Even if you are unable to receive stimulus relief, there are other ways to receive financial assistance. Augsburg has been making an effort to help students throughout the pandemic. Auggie Basics is a program that assists students facing housing instability. Students who struggle with living expenses can apply for this grant while they seek stable housing. Augsburg also has COVID relief funding available for students facing financial hardship. More information about these types of programs can be found on Augsburg Student Financial Services webpage.