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The government might owe you up to $1,800 in stimulus checks – here’s how to find out

Published Feb 5th, 2021 12:18PM EST
Stimulus check status
Image: nikkimeel/Adobe
  • As Congress prepares to pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill that includes funding for a new wave of $1,400 direct payments, some people might be confused or uncertain at the moment about their stimulus check status.
  • College students might assume they count as dependents of their parents, in which case they can’t receive or claim any stimulus check money.
  • However, that’s not necessarily true.

It looks like Democrats are forgoing all the unity talk in order to ensure that President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill successfully winds its way through Congress.

The US House of Representatives is expected to hold a budget-related vote on Friday that would let them send Biden’s economic package through the House on procedural grounds, without needing Republican support. The plan would be for the bill to be passed with final approval around the end of the month or so. In the Senate, where Democrats and Republicans are split 50-50, Vice President Kamala Harris cast her first tie-breaking vote to give Biden’s budget bill a narrow procedural approval on Thursday, which means that anyone concerned about their next stimulus check status should definitely be paying attention over the next couple of weeks. Including people who may have been shut out of eligibility for one or both of the previous stimulus checks, in 2020.

In this post, we’re going to focus on a group of people who might be owed as much as $1,800 in stimulus checks ahead of the passage of the Biden budget bill, and who might not realize it. This group of people includes college students, who straddle a kind of awkward line when it comes to stimulus eligibility. They’re young adults, they’re either still in college or just graduated, and while they may live with their parents they might also have a job to start supporting themselves and pay for things like class books and other expenses.

The issue comes if their parents claim them as a dependent on their tax forms. If that’s the case, the parent gets the stimulus money, while the college student gets nothing.

Here’s the thing, though — don’t just assume that you’re an adult dependent and that your parents did this the right way. Bankrate has prepared a guide that helps walk college students through a number of steps to see if they’re eligible for stimulus money, which you very well might be. You might have aged out of the adult dependent category last year, for example, without realizing it.

There’s actually a multi-part test the IRS uses to make sure a college-age adult can be claimed by their parents as a dependent. For one thing, the child has to be under the age of 24 if they’re a full-time student for at least five months of the year. Sharing the same permanent address as the parents is also looked at, and while college students who are claimed by their parents are allowed to have a job, they can’t provide more than half of their own living expenses.

The reason why college students should definitely take a look at all this and possibly ask a tax preparer for help is that President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion budget bill included provisions that make all adult dependents eligible for a new stimulus check. Check out Bankrate’s guide to learn more about how to make sense of all this, and how to claim the money if you qualify.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.