Check picture

Picture of check, image courtesy of Orange County Register 

As the pandemic nears its first anniversary, the matter of a federal stimulus to accommodate the toll on the economy has again entered the public consciousness. Following April’s initial $1,200 stimulus package, Congress broke its silence on the matter and has approved the distribution of further payments of $600 to qualifying individuals.

But while countries around the world distribute monthly payments of at least $1,000 to subsidize their citizens, Congress’s effort is laughable, particularly to those college-age dependents who are excluded based on their parents’ tax status.

The disqualification of adult dependents is a troubling symptom of the social limbo in which many college students find themselves trapped, having independence without the ability to be truly self-sufficient.

While it is true that many college students are dependent on their parents for financial support — with the average parent paying for 62% of their children’s college — that dependence often does not extend beyond tuition and housing. Many college students, like myself, rely on their parents and are listed rightly as dependents; but some are dependents in name only, receiving little financial aid from their parents in actuality. 

“I think it’s kind of unfair to categorize all dependent college students together because different students have different levels of dependency,” said kinesiology sophomore Macy Laurent. “I have some friends who have parents pay for all of their stuff and friends whose parents don’t help at all.”

With the pandemic making it even harder to find a part-time job willing to hire college students, the federal stimulus -- even for those who have tuition and housing support from parents -- is sorely missed. Buying groceries, gas, books, etc., is essential for college living. 

The issue is the myth that college students are truly independent. Society tells us that we are adults and that we are independent as of the time we set foot onto a college campus. Yet, as the current economic climate has shown, college students are neither adults nor children: responsible for some things, yet unable to do others.

According to the current Congress, extending the financial stimulus to dependents like myself is not a worthwhile endeavor. But it's more nuanced than that. If college is where you become your own person, then why are students viewed as reflections of their parents and not as the legal adults they are?

As much as we want it to go away, this pandemic is far from over. Going into a Biden White House with a blue Congress, the future of the federal stimulus is up in the air for dependents and non-dependents both. Hopefully, with a change of guard in Washington, the rumblings of $2,000 payments will aim to include college-aged dependents.

Domenic Purdy is a 19-year-old journalism sophomore from Prairieville.

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