Many students at Montclair State University have lost their jobs and internships due to high unemployment rates caused by COVID-19.
As reported by CNBC, 3.28 million people in the United States are unemployed and the number is still rising.
Noemi Mendoza, a sophomore television and digital media major, was recently laid off from her job as a hostess at Hudson in Hackensack, New Jersey.
“I saw what was happening, but I didn’t think that people would lose their jobs,” Mendoza said. “The day I heard that at first, I was just like ‘Oh my god they are going to close for two weeks.’ I thought it was going to be a mini-vacation for me and it turns out we’re locked up until April 20. Now it hit me.”
Though for some students, this might just be temporary. Alex Rivezzi, a junior theater studies major, works at an aftercare program at Meadowlands YMCA and was given a date to go back to work.
“At first, no, they just laid us off,” Rivezzi said. “But our supervisor texted me recently saying that our expected return date is April 20, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
As job loss has skyrocketed, students taking internships for pay and credits are looking to find ways to make up the time that they are missing. Students like Mary Elizabeth Rawley are taking a practicum.
Practicum classes are required for some students to get internships and jobs in their field of study. Students who major in fields like music therapy need to complete 30 hours a semester from an outside site.
Rawley currently doesn’t know how she will make up her hours, but she knows that she will be able to at some point.
“The therapy department has been very, very, accommodating,” Rawley said. “Some sites do music therapy over Facetime, Zoom, Skype or over something that’s HIPAA compliant, like a face-to-face kind of thing. As of now, I am talking with my supervisor, and we’re having a lot of in-depth conversations about music therapy within the site that I am at.”
According to Erika Bleiberg, the director of media relations, due to the vast amount of internships and practicum classes, Montclair State does not have a blanket policy in place. The university is leaving it up to faculty and academic advisors to work with individual students on a case-to-case basis.
“Our goal is to keep students safe and — if possible — for them to complete their programs,” Bleiberg said. “Each of these will complete their requirements according to their professional governing, licensing and/or accreditation bodies.”
Many students will continue to work off-site, and others are completing alternative assignments.
“We don’t want students to lose out so we are trying to be creative with our solutions,” Bleiberg said.
As students face unemployment, Congress has passed a stimulus package that includes a stimulus check that comes out to $1,200. However, students who claim to be a dependent on their parent’s tax return are not entitled to a stimulus check.
Despite this stipulation, to some relief, student loan payments were addressed by the president in mid-March.
As of March 13, student loan payments and interest have been suspended until Sept. 30 to allow affected students some relief during a time of financial uncertainty. The suspension will cover federal loans like the Stafford Loan and the Parent PLUS loan, though it does not cover loans not held by the Department of Education, such as the Federal Family Education Loan, the Perkins loans and private loans.
According to James Anderson, the director of financial aid, Montclair State students do not have to worry about loans for the moment.
“There are a lot of details that haven’t come out,” Anderson said. “Loan payments are going to be suspended from March 13 through Sept. 30. During that time frame, students will not be charged interest or be required to pay.”