ECHO PARK, Calif. - Millions of coronavirus stimulus checks are hitting bank accounts this week as part of the federal government's efforts to bolster the economy during the coronavirus pandemic. Mackenzie Goldberg, who received her check this week, says the financial relief couldn't have come soon enough.
"Very excited but also these days...checking any sort of bank account is a little stressful," she said.
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Goldberg is a first-year urban planning graduate student at USC. Her loans help cover tuition and major living expenses, including rent, and she has a job.
"I work part-time as a research assistant," said Goldberg. "It doesn't really help me with the rent or anything like that but it helps me buy groceries and those sort of expenses."
She says seeing $1,200 deposited into her account was a relief because her loans will only last for a few more weeks.
"My semester ends mid-May so that's sort of when my living expenses are up for grabs, I guess you could say," she said.
Goldberg's stimulus check is among the first wave of 80 million payments from the IRS. Eligibility is mostly based on income. Individuals and heads of household can receive payments up to $1200, married couples can receive up to $2400 and there is an additional $500 for dependents under the age of 17.
"There's been so much mystery around it," said Goldberg. "I think everyone has been kind of a little skeptical until they've seen it in their bank accounts."
Still, she is worried about the months to come and what she'll do to make ends meet.
"Before all of this, I would have been able to become full-time over the summer so that would have sort of been able to cover my living expenses for the summer break," she said.
That job - which would have contributed to a 200-hour work experience requirement for graduation - is now on hold due to the pandemic.
"It's definitely a little heartbreaking to have that not be able to happen, especially for reasons that aren't my fault," said Goldberg.
But for now, she's taking it day-by-day and spending time chatting with family and friends, cooking and talking walks in her Echo Park neighborhood.
To find out if you qualify for a coronavirus stimulus check, go to www.irs.gov
If you are eligible, there is an online tool called "Get My Payment" where you can check the status of your money, which is not taxes and doesn't need to be paid back to the government.