How Biden’s New COVID-19 Relief Bill Could Impact Loyola Students

Gage Skidmore | Wikimedia CommonsPresident Joe Biden’s new COVID-19 relief package provides stimulus checks for adult dependents.

For many college students — including some at Loyola — President Joe Biden’s new COVID-19 relief package represents the first time they’re receiving stimulus checks. 

Dependents — people who rely on another for financial support — of families earning up to $150,000 will now receive a $1,400 stimulus check after Biden signed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package March 11.

Some students at Loyola are celebrating as they receive their first stimulus check through the recent relief package. 

“I feel like [dependents] should have gotten [the stimulus check] from the start,” Bryan Barrientos, a junior at Loyola, said. “I’m glad [Biden] passed [the relief package] because he did promise, so I’m glad he’s keeping his promises for the most part.”

Past stimulus checks provided to the public included an extra $500 per child to eligible families but did not include many college-aged dependents. To be counted as a child, the individual must be 17 or younger, excluding most college kids and adult dependents, The Phoenix previously reported.  

For dependents receiving stimulus checks in the upcoming weeks, the $1,400 will be deposited into the bank account of the provider they are dependent on. 

Along with Barrientos, an estimated 85 percent of Americans will be eligible for the check, according to the Associated Press (AP). Biden hopes this mass coverage will aid a number of financial burdens Americans are currently facing. 

“That means the mortgage can get paid,” Biden said in an AP report. “That means the child can stay in community college. That means maintaining the health insurance you have. It’s going to make a big difference in so many lives in this country.” 

In addition to financial aid, Biden also plans to allocate more funding to schools, vaccine distribution, small businesses, cybersecurity and state and local governments, according to the AP.  

While Biden has big plans for the COVID-19 relief package, some dependents still believe it isn’t enough. 

“When you think about it COVID started about a year ago and they expect $1400 to cover the losses that have plagued us for a whole year?” Katherine North, a sophomore at Loyola, said. “I’m living on my own, I get some help from my parents but not a lot, and I’ve had to take up a 40 hour work week just to be able to make ends meet.”

In addition to the stress of finances, is the concern of getting exposed to COVID-19 at work. 

“With the risk of COVID too, it’s like how is it so difficult for our government to understand that we need help?” North, 20, said. “There’s so many people worse off than me too. I can’t even imagine.”

George Almaraz, a junior at Loyola, said he lost his job due to COVID-19 back in March 2020. In the past year, he said he’s come to recognize the importance of savings and emergency funds and plans to save his stimulus check when he receives it.

“[The stimulus check] is a vital thing,” Almaraz, 21, said. “Whether it be for long-time savings or an emergency fund, I’ve learned to budget more properly and maturely.” 

With dependents now receiving stimulus checks, conversations of how students plan to spend their money have circulated online. While Barrientos has decided to save his $1,400 check, he has struggled to resist spending it through other means. 

“I am planning on saving that 1,400 because I don’t feel that I need to waste it,” Barrientos, 21, said. “Everyone else is posting on social media that they’re gonna waste it and it makes me want to waste it but I’m trying to be smart just in case there is another pandemic.”

Some dependents joked on Twitter about the sum of money they are to receive.

While some Loyola students are choosing to save all their money, others are treating themselves after a difficult year of facing the effects of COVID-19. 

“I was gonna save most of it,” North said. “I was thinking of maybe getting another tattoo, just because I love getting tattoos, but if not that then maybe just a pizza night or something.”

Similarly, Almaraz plans to save a portion of his stimulus check for personal interests.  

“A grand of it is going to go to savings,” Almaraz told The Phoenix. “The remaining 400 I want to be able to use to purchase some camera equipment along with potentially a new camera just for personal projects along with maybe future school projects that are in the near future.”

While some dependents are grateful to receive aid, there is still concern for what’s to come. 

“I’m an optimist but I’m also a realist,” North said. “I hope it gives some sense of relief to people and people see it as a good thing but everything is politicized. This could obviously turn into something that divides people even more even though it’s something that was created to aid people.”

In addition to political concerns, are worries for future aid as the U.S. starts to recover from the pandemic. 

“Hopefully this isn’t the last stimulus check,” Barrientos, 21, said. “If it’s not, hopefully it’s more than 1400.” 

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