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Resources for Graduates in the CARES Act

by Hunter Moskowitz

For many students looking for a job, the future is frightening. As of the week of April 18, 26.5 million Americans have filed for unemployment since mid-March when Covid-19 began forcing companies to close. Graduates face a difficult job market and many hold substantial student loans. Doctoral students who finish dissertations will also lose funding from stipends and fellowships. But there are some government programs and other resources available to help recent graduates.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), signed into law on March 27th, provides relief to people and businesses. For current college and graduate students, the CARES act includes $14 billion in funding to be allocated to universities. More than $12 billion of this funding will be given to universities based on their student enrollment. Colleges must distribute 50% of their allocation as emergency financial aid grants to students. Recent graduates could receive some benefits under many of the act’s programs:

  • Student Loan relief – people with federal loans will receive 0% interest and a waiver on loan payments until September 30th, 2020. Collections are also being halted on defaulted federal loans. Those loans must be held by the federal government to be eligible. Loans under a federal program, but held by a commercial bank do not qualify. But, many private companies offer temporary relief. So, it’s worth checking with your loan holder for more information.
  • Economic Impact Payment – Everyone earning less than $75,000 is eligible for an economic impact payment of $1200. They may be due less if they earned under $99,000. Slightly different rules apply for married couples and heads of household. But, many students may have been claimed as dependents by their parents or guardians on their most recent tax reform. They would not qualify for payment.So many recent graduates will not receive checks under this program. If you are eligible for a payment, visit the IRS website to check your status and sign up for direct deposit.
  • Unemployment Insurance – In New York state, recent college and high school graduates who work can file for unemployment insurance. The CARES act includes extra benefits such as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which applies to non-traditional workers. PUA includes $600 per week for an extra thirteen weeks. These benefits may cover those who lose work and have insufficient work history or could not regularly receive unemployment benefits. According to the Century Foundation, graduates who do not work and seek to enter the labor force may not qualify unless they have had a job offer rescinded. Qualifying for unemployment insurance varies from state to state.It can also change based on new circumstances. Graduates should review their state’s unemployment website for the most accurate information. To file a claim in New York State, follow this link.

Hunter Moskowitz

  • Research Assistant, Northeastern University

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