Can College Students Get Unemployment?

How to Qualify for PUA as a Student

PUA is available for workers who are unemployed directly because of COVID-19, and extends benefits specifically for gig workers, independent contractors,  college students, and others who normally wouldn’t qualify.

The program allows college students who have lost a job to access the additional $300 unemployment benefit boost on top of state payments they may be eligible for. 

Students may qualify if:

1. You Lost Your Job Due to COVID-19

If you were working a job while attending school and lost it specifically because of COVID-19, then you can apply and receive unemployment benefits. And the job doesn’t have to be a “career” job either: Delivering pizzas, babysitting, driving for Uber, or working in a restaurant all count. If your employer cut hours, the restaurant closed, or the number of people using Uber declined, you could file for unemployment.

2. If You Were Doing a Work Study Through Your University

If you were doing a work study through your school (working as a library assistant, giving tours, assisting in other university functions) but you can’t because of COVID-19 (your university is closed, classes online), then you can qualify for unemployment benefits. 

If you accepted a paid job or internship offer, but your offer was rescinded specifically because of COVID-19, then you can qualify for unemployment benefits. 

You’ll most likely have to show proof of your offer and formal notice of rescission to qualify. 


Selecting a Career School or College

Program types, costs and student outcomes vary significantly between schools and colleges. TWC does not endorse one institution, organization or individual providing training over another. However, TWC recommends that prospective students shop wisely, using the information in the Directory of Licensed Career Schools & Colleges and other available resources.  The directory allows you to explore and compare programs on cost, length, enrollment, graduation rates, performance history (graduation, employment & placement rates) of graduates and school accreditation.

If a career school or college operates without a valid certificate of approval or exemption, TWC issues a cease-and-desist order and the school may no longer operate in Texas.

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Alternatives to Unemployment Benefits

If you don’t qualify for unemployment while in school or after graduation, or your benefits have run out, you may have other options to close the financial gap. For instance, you may be able to enter a vocational training program that pays while you’re in school, so you earn an income while learning new skills. 

If that’s not an option, managing your finances while you’re out of work can mean going back to basics. Reviewing your spending and trimming down your budget can help. Moving back home with your parents could be a temporary solution for saving money. You could also consider selling things you don’t need to raise extra cash while you look for a job. 

Gaps in Coverage for Students

While the PUA extends unemployment benefits to more students, there are still gaps in coverage. 

Students who don’t qualify for unemployment benefits include:

The program offers coverage for students who had a job offer that was rescinded due to COVID-19, but it doesn’t offer coverage for students who graduate and are looking for work for the first time.

2. Students Who Lost Jobs Not Directly From COVID-19

You must have lost your job as a direct result of COVID-19. 

“Many have lost jobs as a result of the more-vague economic downturn,” says Mishory. “These students would also not qualify for unemployment benefits.”

Frequently Asked Questions About EDD Unemployment Benefits While Attending Classes

Q: Can I receive unemployment while attending classes at CET?

A: Yes, students are eligible to receive their unemployment insurance payments while attending classes. This program is known as the California Training Benefit and CET is one of the approved programs. This benefit allows students to continue receiving their unemployment benefits while in school and even allows them a training extension, if needed.

Q: When can students let EDD know about their training?

A: Typically, students have to inform the EDD about their new training program before their 16th week of payment or if their claim is less than 16 weeks, the last week of their claim. To waive the requirement that they are ready to accept work and actively seeking a job, they must apply to the CTB program at the start of their application for Unemployment Insurance (UI).

Q: What part does CET play in informing EDD that the student is coming to school?

A: The first week the student attends classes, the CET admissions team will have the student fill out a Training Enrollment Verification form which will be faxed directly to EDD. This form proves that the student is currently attending classes.

Q: Is there any special process for certifying benefits in order to prove that I’m coming to school? 

A: When you certify for benefits, mark the box that says you’re attending a training program and make sure to put the name of the school: Center for Employment Training. If you don’t give the school’s name, there’s a chance your benefits may be cut.

Stimulus proposals

VIDEO 2:25 02:25 Stimulus checks: How much you'll getInvest in You: Ready. Set. Grow.

The pandemic aid program runs through the end of the year, but the HEROES Act passed by the House of Representatives in May would extend it until Jan. 31 and add back the $600 federal weekly payment, which also would continue through January.

The HEALS Act, proposed by Senate Republicans, would make the additional weekly federal payment $200 and extend it through October. Then, combined state and federal benefits would replace 70% of a worker's lost wages

There's no proposal for extending the pandemic assistance program. "[The Act] would also disqualify a lot of students from getting benefits," Stettner said. "You could only get it if you lost your principal source of income."

How long does unemployment last?

The length of time you're able to claim unemployment varies from state to state. In most states, the maximum allowed is 26 weeks, but some states limit unemployment to shorter lengths of time. Extended unemployment benefits may be available during periods of high unemployment.