Michigan 5th payment debts during pandemic affect college students


Courtesy to Detroit Free Press

Kylie Elwell, Staff Reporter

For many Michigan residents, especially students, paying rent on time has been hard this past year due to the pandemic. Twenty-two percent of renters in Michigan have fallen behind on payments this year and 29.1% of residents don’t think that they will be able to pay next month’s rent payment.

A U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey data focused on to finding the top  states where Americans are still struggling to make rent payments on time, where renters are most behind on payments, and where renters are the least confident they’ll be able to make next month’s payments.

The Federal Eviction Moratorium, a temporary ban which stops landlords from evicting tenants who don’t pay rent, is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020. This puts many renters at risk of eviction and finding themselves without somewhere to live if they cannot pay their rent. Finding a job during this pandemic has been hard for all age ranges, but especially college-aged students. Working enough hours to pay for rent and bills on top of being enrolled in college courses is difficult and impossible for many.

Jenna Poll, Associate Director of Financial Aid at Grand Valley State University, says her office can offer possible solutions to students who are struggling.

“GVSU’s Financial Aid Office houses the MoneySmart Lakers program, and we work with students on budgeting and how certain things, like falling behind on rent, will impact your credit score,” said Poll.

Many GVSU students are advised to reach out to the Financial Aid Office for assistance during this time. There, they encourage students to apply for FAFSA, which includes the Federal Pell Grant, federal loans and GVSU grants.

The university also offers an emergency financial aid grant for students to apply for. The financial hardship grant request form allows students to fill out an application identifying their expenses and what would be necessary to help them during this time.

“I have lived at Campus West for six months, I do not plan to return because they have not waived late fees or worked with residents because of the pandemic,” said junior Sydney Cheney. “Most of the emails I have sent them about rent or subleasing have been as if we aren’t struggling financially. Also, subleasing is a pain. It should not cost a $300 fee right now to terminate your lease”.

Many students have found themselves struggling to pay rent monthly and on time or having to sublease or break their leases at their apartments to move back home, due to not being able to afford rent and utilities on top of their housing complexes not aiding them during this time.

All apartment complexes that the Lanthorn reached out to for this story declined to comment on these issues.

“I’ve lived at Locale since Summer 2020,” an anonymous student said. “As far as I know, they are not working with people due to COVID-19. Late fees are still being imposed as they still send out warnings when your payment is late/you are going to occur a late fee. I feel that this is very inconvenient and selfish in a time where people are suffering financially.