After the breakout of Covid-19, the government issued stimulus checks to aid citizens financially. Along with the stimulus check, government assistance through unemployment became a source of income for many. Some students qualified for receiving the check while others did not. The 2020 stimulus check in March amounted to $1200 for those who qualified for aid during the country’s shutdown.
Kimmy Daniels, a junior public relations major, did not receive financial support.
“I didn't qualify for unemployment because I work for the school, so once the school year was over, my job was over. That’s how it normally works, so I wasn’t out of a job when I didn’t expect to be,” she said.
Daniels did not receive a stimulus check in April.
“To make it even worse, I didn’t qualify for a stimulus check because my mom claims me as a dependent on her taxes. I was one of the many college aged students that didn’t get a stimulus check,” Daniels said.
Kent State created an emergency relief fund in March to help students. For students who applied, the money was deposited quickly into their accounts. Students reported receiving aid within three to five days.
“I considered taking a semester off of school to work and save the money that I lost. Luckily, the Kent State pandemic relief fund granted me a little chunk of money that has helped me with groceries and bills,” she said. “I guess to look at it with a glass half full, I’m saving money because I’m not spending any money on anything other than essentials. I don’t really leave the house.”
Nate Watkins, a recent exercise science graduate, spent his stimulus check to buy a new car.
“I was able to save rather quickly to put a down payment on my car,” he said. “I’m more than thankful for the financial help from the government. I wasn’t expecting to make so much from unemployment and the stimulus check.”
His new Ford Fusion was his biggest purchase, but not his only.
“I saved of course, but I also wanted to donate a lot of it,” he said. “I donated to many GoFundMe accounts. I would rather help someone in these trying times than hoard all of the money myself.”
Watkins plans to move to Columbus for employment in exercise science.
“I had an internship lined up down there before the pandemic hit. Since that got canceled, I’ve been trying to find other work down there,” he said. “I’m really just ready to move out of Kent. I’m fortunate that I have money saved up to move comfortably and with ease.”
Mackenzie Hillebrecht, a Kent resident, spent her stimulus check on a downpayment for a car as well.
“I didn’t think I would get a new Subaru until I had a career. Now, I have a 2020 Subaru Outback,” she said. “If I didn’t receive the stimulus check, I would still be driving a beater. I’m so much less stressed knowing I have something reliable,” Hillebrecht said.
Sammy McKeever, a junior communications major, spent his unemployment money on shoes he’s always wanted.
“I had to. I always could have bought them, but with extra income now, I don’t have to feel guilty about it,” he said.
McKeever bought eight pairs of shoes and plans to buy more.
“I’ve bought Vans, Nikes, Jordans, you name it. My shoe collection won’t ever stop expanding,” he said. “Luckily, there’s so many deals right now too. I’m paying less yet getting more.”
McKeever also spent his money on popular clothing brands.
“I get everything shipped to my house. My clothes, shoes, anything. I find really good deals and capitalize on that,” he said. “Nike sent me a free pair of shoes by accident and told me to keep them. I think they know I’m a loyal customer by now.”
Mykala Shook, a senior speech pathologist major, spent her unemployment money on food and entertainment around the house, such as a sound system for her apartment.
“I spent too much money on DoorDash, but that’s because I didn’t want to leave my house,” she said. “I’m still trying to break that habit now, but it’s hard to. I also tip really well because making money during a time like this is difficult.”
Shook did not originally benefit from unemployment. Now she receives weekly payment.
“Until the government added the $600 bonus, I was barely making $150 a week. That’s significantly less than what I make. I was really nervous and stressed out,” Shook said.
Shook made financial plans and investments for the future when unemployment ends.
“I put about half of my unemployment money in my savings account every week,” she said. “I ended up paying my rent months in advance so I didn’t have to stress about it. I now have more money in my savings than I ever have.”
Molly O’Brien, a recent advertising graduate, spent her stimulus check on a Nintendo Switch.
“I wanted a Nintendo Switch the moment I found out they existed. I just couldn’t comfortably afford one,” O’Brien said. “The first game I bought with it was Animal Crossing. I’m addicted to playing it.”
O’Brien bought the Nintendo Switch shortly after she received her stimulus check.
“I wasn’t planning to buy it at first. I had to contemplate how I would spend and save my money. But when quarantine happened, I literally had nothing else to do but play games,” she said. “It’s also a great way to connect with my friends while socially distancing.”
Shannon Miklusak, a financial advisor at KeyBank, guides customers throughout the pandemic.
“I’ve seen all walks of life come in and ask for assistance,” she said. “However, I noticed many college students asking for assistance with their money. They’ve been asking about savings accounts, loans and increasing their credit limits.”
Miklusak works at the Cleveland KeyBank branch. She’s been employed for over ten years.
“I have children of my own who I guide financially. I was just really impressed with the amount of kids who called for advice on what to do. They’re not used to having so much money,” she said. “I wish they taught more financial literacy in school, but what can you do. I enjoy helping especially during this time of life right now.”
Sam Ricker, a senior, paid her parents back with most of her stimulus check.
“They’ve done so much for me. I felt inclined to give it back to them,” she said. “They were really surprised and didn’t accept it at first.”
Ricker bought herself an iPhone 11 with the rest of the money.
“The only reason I bought a new phone is because my phone literally broke. Otherwise, I would’ve sent all of my money to my parents.” she said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do in life, and now I finally had the chance to.”
Zaria Moore covers money. Contact her at email@example.com.