On Thursday, March 11, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law. As part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, stimulus checks will be going out to Americans, including many college students.

The stimulus package known as the CARES Act passed last year excluded dependents over the age of 17 from receiving checks, meaning many college students did not qualify to receive aid. This time, dependent students over age 17 are eligible for a relief check.

Dependent students, or students who have been claimed on someone else’s taxes, can receive as much money as the person who claimed them. However, these students will not receive their own checks. Instead, the parent or guardian who claimed them will collect the relief money.

Independent students, those who file their own taxes and are not claimed as a dependent on a parent or guardian’s taxes, will qualify for a stimulus check as long as they have a social security number and make under the maximum amount to qualify for aid. Independent students can also receive $1,400 depending on income, which is based on 2019 or 2020 taxes. Independent students will receive their stimulus check in the same way they receive tax refunds, either direct deposit or physical check.

The amount of aid dependent students receive is determined by the income reported on their most recent tax returns. The full amount each person can receive is $1,400.

Those who reported an income of more than $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for single head of households or $150,000 for married couples will receive partial payments. Individuals who reported an income of over $80,000 per year, married couples who reported an income of over $160,000 and those who do not have a social security number will not receive stimulus checks.

This means that if a student has a single parent making less than $112,500, that parent should receive a $1,400 check for each dependent over 17. If a student in a two-parent home has parents making less than $150,000 annually, that family will also receive a $1,400 check for that student.

Students will have to coordinate their reception of the check with the adult they are filed under; the $1,400 credit will go into the account of the person who filed the taxes, such as the parent or guardian, and students and other adult dependents must get their part of the stimulus check from that person, not the government.

Distribution of relief checks could begin as soon as this weekend. Money will be sent to each person the same way they receive their tax refunds.

The American Rescue Plan Act includes several other items relevant to college students, such as federal emergency funds for schools to distribute to their students to offset financial hardships brought on by the pandemic.  

There is also a refundable child tax credit which may benefit students who have children.