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Unemployed full-time students in California are now eligible to receive an additional $300 weekly stimulus for COVID-19 impacts on unemployment. 

According to the State of California, President Donald Trump signed the Pandemic Additional Compensation into legislation on Dec. 27, 2020, renewing federal unemployment benefits that had expired on Dec. 26. The legislation extends the increase for unemployment recipients for up to 11 weeks, ending on March 13. 

Agricultural communications senior Drew McCarthy recently lost his serving job at Blue Moon Over Avila after the new COVID-19 restrictions prevented indoor dining. 

“With the extra $300, it’s still not going to match what I was making, but now I can at least focus on school more,” McCarthy said.

The $300 is now being added to regular Unemployment Insurance (UI). The additional compensation will next be added to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March 2020 due to record unemployment rates. The CARES Act instated the PUA, expanding unemployment assistance available and extending eligibility to working students, according to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators

Cal Poly reports that, of the $7,047,988 awarded to Cal Poly student grants through PUA, $6,993,593 has been awarded to students as of Oct. 14, 2020.

Additionally, Cal Poly estimates the number of students who qualify to receive emergency financial aid is more than 15,000. However, only 6,730 have received an emergency grant so far. Applications for emergency grants are still open on the Cal Poly Cares webpage.

In 2018, 43% of full-time students nationally were employed, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. However, many college students have lost their jobs or experienced income decreases due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Mechanical engineering senior Bree Zedar said she has had a difficult time finding a job. 

“I applied because the world didn’t stop turning,” Zedar said. “I still have to pay student loans, for rent and food. I can’t do that without a job so unemployment is aiding that because the job market is so weak right now.”

Among the 19.3 million workers ages 16 to 24 in the economy overall, 9.2 million, or nearly half, are employed in service-sector establishments according to Pew Research Center. Younger workers make up 24% of employment in higher-risk industries overall.

Communication studies senior Carolyn Inglis was furloughed from her restaurant job and applied for unemployment shortly after. She has been receiving the extra $300 for two weeks. 

“It has been super helpful covering groceries and stuff like that, but I know a lot of adults back home that are on it and it’s not nearly enough to help pay rent or a mortgage on the coast of Northern California,” Inglis said.

For those already enrolled in regular Unemployment Insurance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or PUA, the additional compensation will automatically be added to their federal stimulus funds per week that they are eligible to receive.

Applicants whose PUA benefits have run out are still eligible for the additional payments for up to 11 weeks. The federal government will automatically renew these payments. 

Qualifiers for the additional $300 include business owners, self-employed workers, independent contractors and others who are unemployed but would not typically qualify for regular unemployment. Applications for PUA are available on the Employment Development Department website

There will not be a gap in payments between legislations based on the date it was signed into law. However, the California government cannot apply the new program until they receive guidelines from the US Department of Labor on how to implement the law. 

Although payments may be delayed, recipients will still receive all compensation they qualify for. 

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