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With a new $1.9 trillion pandemic stimulus package working its way through the United States Congress, one demographic group can almost taste its first bite at the apple.

New in the relief bill being discussed in Washington, D.C., is a provision that would put dependents who are 17 years old and older — in many cases college students — in line to qualify for $1,400 payments for the first time.

The payments would apply to young adults who are claimed as dependents on their parents' federal tax returns, a group that has been excluded from previous stimulus bills. According to the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University, there are about 10 million 17- t0 24-year-olds in this category.

If the provision holds — details of the plan are still being negotiated — it could provide relief to cash-strapped young adults; many of whom have lost work during the pandemic. One twist: the payments will go to the tax filers, so students may have to negotiate with their parents to get the money.

We reached out to college students for reaction. Several University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students replied by e-mail. Their last names have been withheld to protect their financial privacy.

 

I was on unemployment for a while, about 5 months, when my job closed their doors. I've never received a relief package from the government outside of unemployment because I was claimed on my father's taxes last year.

Getting $1,400 would be a huge help. However, my rent is $700, and then you gotta eat, and pay bills, and live your life; so $1,400 goes quick. And if you have a minimum wage paying job like I do, it makes it impossible to try and save that money.

— Meagan, 25

...

Everyone is struggling through something. Everyone should have an equal opportunity to receive the [stimulus] check. I have a few bills to pay and [some] groceries would be amazing right now. I've been let go from three different jobs because COVID had gotten too many employees sick, or business has just shut down all together. My [check] engine light came on last week.

— Tony, 22

 

I have not received a stimulus payment in the past because my mom claims me in her taxes. To receive $1,400 would be amazing and helpful with covering everyday expenses. It would take stress off of my shoulders because I would be relieved, and it'd really help.

I would use the money for rent, groceries, or my monthly school payments for tuition. I would buy the necessities I need, but also try to save some of it for future bills. Work has been slow from the pandemic and people not wanting to go out as much, so that affects my wage because I work off tips.

Alexandra, 21

 

College students are often financially independent from their parents. They take out loans of their own to pay for school, have their own job to pay rent, and rarely rely on parents for money. But, they are still thought of by the government as dependents.

I have not gotten any stimulus payments. It would mean I get to lift a financial burden off of my parents. I'm lucky to have my parents pay my rent still through school, but if I could afford it I would do it.

Jessica, 20

 

I think working college students should receive stimulus money but I don't believe that money should just be handed out to students.

I would appreciate [the stimulus] but as I am an unemployed college student, I don't believe there is much of a reason to give me $1,400 when that money could go to other more important places. [That said], I would probably use it for my rent so that my parents can have a break from helping me for a few months.

Collin, 22

 

I have not received stimulus payments in the past, I am still dependent on my parent's taxes. Honestly, if I were to receive a $1,400 check, I would put it straight into my savings. I am huge on that. Whenever a paycheck comes out, I always put the majority of it into my savings. COVID-19 has not caused me any personal financial hardship, thankfully.

Macy, 21

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com.

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