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  • Writer's pictureDana DeLapi

Income (Unemployment, remote jobs, etc.) know many students have lost access to jobs on- and off-campus, putting their livelihoods at risk. We want to help you find access to money quickly.

For your sake of all college students nationwide, we compiled essential information that’s simple to understand and navigate.

Applying for unemployment

If you have lost a job or multiple jobs due to COVID-19, you are likely eligible for unemployment benefits and should file for them immediately. Unemployment benefits are provided at the state level. Many of the aid dollars talked about on the news will flow through unemployment so applying is important.

The Coronavirus Aid, Response, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) includes the three program initiatives that temporarily expands unemployment insurance (UI) eligibility to workers impacted by COVID-19 including:

  • Freelancers and independent contractors

  • Workers seeking part-time work

  • Workers who don't have a long enough work history to qualify for state unemployment insurance benefits

  • Workers who otherwise wouldn't qualify for benefits under state or federal law

Other special circumstances will vary depending on each state, but generally, they include:

  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms of it and are trying to get diagnosed

  • A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19

  • You are providing care for someone diagnosed with COVID-19

  • You are providing care for a child or other household member who can't go to school or to a care facility because it's closed due to COVID-19

  • You are quarantined or have been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine

  • You were scheduled to start a job and no longer have the job or can't reach the job due to COVID-19

  • You have become the primary earner for a household because the head of household died as a direct result of COVID-19

  • You had to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19

  • Your place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19

  • You meet other criteria set forth by the Secretary of Labor

Whether you were a student worker, part-time employee, or directly impacted by COVID-19 pandemic, you may be found eligible for unemployment benefits. The implementation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will still vary by state, so it’s important to check your state’s unemployment office to find more information about:

  1. Eligibility

  2. How to file a claim

  3. Supportive documents needed (vary by state)

The Balance Careers Guide “How to File for Unemployment Benefits” verified April 15, 2020 The Balance Careers has updated their guide to include information on COVID-19. It is a great resource with clear steps of what to do and to help you apply for unemployment insurance in your state.

CareerOne Stop “Unemployment Benefits Finder” verified April 15, 2020 CareerOne Stop has updated their Unemployment Benefits Finder that helps link you to each state’s Unemployment Insurance Program, including changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Note: Unfortunately, there are eligibility qualifications to this bill, so certain undocumented folks do not qualify. If you identity as undocumented or live in a mixed-status household, we encourage you to check our Legal section for more information.

Applying for TANF

If you have children, you should apply for Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) to get biweekly cash assistance for a limited time. This program is funded by the federal government but administered through your state. can help you check if you're eligible for this program and show you where to apply.

Filing your taxes

If you expect to get a refund check from your 2019 taxes, you should file now. While the deadline has been extended to July 15th, the IRS is still processing and sending out refund checks to those who file now. If you know you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, the American Opportunity Tax Credit, or the Lifetime Learning Credit, these credits will refund money to you.

If your income is $69,000 or below, use the links at the IRS Free File to file your taxes for free. Do NOT google ‘file taxes for free’ as many big companies have been exposed for sending taxpayers to the wrong links that will force them to pay to file.

Receive a refund from your college

If you paid for housing or a meal plan through your college, you may be able to receive a prorated amount of money returned for the rest of the semester. Google your college name and “room and board refund” to see if your college has posted instructions. If they haven’t, try reaching out to your college’s student housing department. Make sure you start by stating that your income has been negatively impacted due to the coronavirus crisis.

Student Loans

If you received federal student loans as part of your financial aid package and have an active payment plan, you should read into CARES Act Student Loan Fact Sheet and what changes have been made in response to COVID-19. Be sure to touch base with your federal and private loan servicer for more information specific to your loan debt. Student Debt Crisis and Savi offers a Free COVID-19 Student Loan Aid Tool to help lower or eliminate your loan payments

SwiftStudent verified April 24, 2020 SwiftStudent is free and offers assistance to with template letters to Financial Aid Offices that help students appeal their financial aid package.

Emergency funds

With an increase in hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations have created emergency funds to assist those that need help. Search through this list of emergency grants to find funds for nonprofits, individuals, small businesses, artists and international aid. Below are some additional emergency funds that are available to individuals.

Edquity College Emergency Fund List verified March 18, 2020 We’ve been compiling every college emergency fund we can find. Check to see if your school has a fund and how to access it.

Colleges Providing Emergency Funds to Undocumented Students verified May 14, 2020 The Department of Education has arbitrarily excluded undocumented students from receiving financial aid through the CARES Act. Use this list to find schools that are taking action and providing emergency funds for undocumented students.

CORE Gives verified September 23, 2020 CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees) has a financial relief fund for food and beverage service employees with children directly affected by COVID-19.

First Responders Children's Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund verified September 23, 2020 Help for paramedics, emergency medical technicians, police officers, firefighters, and employees directly supporting police and fire departments such as 911 dispatchers in need due to COVID-19.

RWCF’s COVID-19 Relief fund verified September 23, 2020 Restaurant Workers Community Foundation offers direct financial assistance to restaurant workers throughout the U.S.

HBCU Community Empowerment Initiative verified September 1, 2020 National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation has partnered with RISE to assist students in these unprecedented times. They are providing funding to assist with basic needs, and relocation expenses (airfare, internet, storage, transportation, food, temporary housing).

Immigrant Families Fund verified September 1, 2020 The COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund is providing financial support to immigrant families who have been left out of the federal government's relief efforts. Immigrants may be eligible to receive a $500 grant to help cover whatever is most pressing in their lives.

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United COVID-19 Resources verified September 1, 2020 List of national and city/state resources available to restaurant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rise Free Student Navigator Network verified September 1, 2020 Rise Free helps connect with students affected by COVID-19 to seek help in navigating additional financial assistance, public benefits, and local resources. Note: Organization does not offer financial assistance.

One Fair Wage - Service Workers Emergency Fund verified September 1, 2020 One Fair Wage is an activist group that has been organizing for a higher minimum wage for tipped workers. They’ve set up an emergency fund for service workers impacted by coronavirus. If you work in a restaurant, coffee shop, delivery or other service job and have had your income reduced, this could be a good fit for you. Note: They are currently raising money for this emergency fund and will be making temporary cash gifts to workers as funding becomes available. This information collected will only be used for the purposes of communicating with you for follow-up steps.

Remote jobs

If remote jobs work for you, here are some top ones we’ve found and ways to find others.

2020 Census verified September 1, 2020 The Census hires lots of people at well-paying rates to help make sure the census happens. Much of this work can be done remotely. Pay: $$$ verified September 1, 2020 Anna Thurman has been maintaining her blog since 2010 with massive lists of ways to work remotely. It can be overwhelming to dive in, but if you’re looking for the megalist, this is it.

Remote job boards

There are many remote job boards out there. We’ve listed the ones we recommend the most for the widest variety of roles and reach. Want to find more remote job boards? This article links 25+ best sites for finding remote work.

Flexjobs verified March 18, 2020 Flexjobs screens their jobs and companies before they are posted. They have a wide range of industries. The link above has the filter "100% remote" already applied.

Steady App Allows you to search and filter extra income (local, remote, part-time) opportunities that meet your financial needs, availability, and skill-set. Their new initiatives focus on providing tangible relief and resources for Steady members including distributing emergency cash grants and medical support. Remote job board. Jobs posted frequently. Can filter for freelance, part-time or full-time.

We Work Remotely Largest remote work community in the world. Search by job industry/category.

Additional money advice

Navigating COVID-19 for Job Seekers verified September 1, 2020 This guide does a great job listing lots of great resources and advice for anyone looking for during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Your Money: A Hub for Help During Coronavirus verified September 1, 2020 NYTimes Money columnists have created a guide to help you understand topics like how unemployment insurance works, new paid leave laws, pausing federal student loans, changes to federal taxes, help for renters and homeowners, and more. You can also email them financial questions. They are continuing to update.

Catch's COVID-19 Resource Center verified September 1, 2020 Catch offers guidance and tools such as health insurance, unemployment, and more for the self-employed to navigate during COVID-19.

Gusto’s COVID-19 Small Business Resource Hub verified September 1, 2020 Gusto's Resource Hub does a great job of addressing business-related resources for the self-employed during COVID-19 with the most up information and news

General Intelligence(s) Resources verified September 1, 2020 General Intelligence(s) is a nonprofit organization committed to providing students with resources for success such as articles on financial literacy and webinars.

Please note: Edquity does not endorse nor is Edquity associated with any business, organization, product or service that is mentioned in these Guides. Edquity is not responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the information provided, which may change over time. We encourage you to contact the business or organization listed to receive the most up-to-date information.


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