The COVID-19 pandemic has left students throughout the California State University (CSU) system and other universities without jobs, housing, food, and many other vital resources, and Cal Poly is no exception. With all of the loss caused by COVID-19, the Senate and House saw a need to protect citizens by providing relief.
In order to do this, both bodies unanimously passed HR 784, the CARES Act, and the bill was signed into law to address the crisis. This stimulus package provides an allocation of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child in relief aid; however, those over 17 cannot collect payment if they are claimed as a dependent. This means that the large majority of students in higher education cannot collect this economic relief, even if they are self-supporting. The families of these students will still receive the $500 in aid, but many students in need will never see this funding.
Additionally, the relief cannot be collected by those without a social security number even though many people file their tax returns using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), creating additional barriers for the nation’s already vulnerable undocumented population.
The CARES Act is, however, benefitting many students now. Cal Poly received $14 million from what is called the Education Stabilization Fund. At least half of this, or $7 million, must be allotted as direct aid to students.
However, this funding could still work better for students by including those who pay taxes with an ITIN and allowing dependents over 17 to receive stipends. Help fix this problem by reaching out to your congressional representatives both in San Luis Obispo and, if different, your hometown asking for college students to receive the same relief as the rest of the population. Find your representative and write to San Luis Obispo’s congressional representative, Salud Carbajal, on his website. ASI Student Government is working to advocate on your behalf, but the more attention we bring to this issue, the better! To learn more about how to get involved and advocate, contact Kylie Clark, chair of the ASI External Affairs Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below is a sample script you may utilize when writing to your representative:
My name is __________, my area code is _________, and I am a student at __________. Students at higher education institutions have already been struggling to make ends meet long before the COVID-19 crisis. Now, hundreds of those students have lost their on- and off-campus jobs, which will only increase the rates of food insecurity and homelessness while also decreasing the rates of degree completion.
Recently, Congress passed the CARES Act which allocated up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child in the United States. And yet, this stimulus package will not allow college students who are over 17 to collect a relief payment if they are claimed as a dependent by other adults, meaning the CSU’s dependent student population cannot receive this economic relief.
Please support students like me and ensure that we are also able to receive some form of relief during this crisis. Thank you!