Unemployment Insurance Questions & Answers During COVID-19 Time in NY

Q: I will be a full time college student in the fall studying online.  Can I continue to receive unemployment benefits from the NY Department of Labor?"

A: There is no specific provision in the NYS unemployment compensation that specifically prevents students from collecting unemployment benefits from the Department of Labor. The unemployment application that you must fill out prior to receiving benefits asks you whether or not you are a student that is currently enrolled in school, but answering yes does not automatically disqualify you from receiving benefits. As long as you meet all the requirements of the Department of Labor, you could qualify for unemployment benefits just like anyone else.


Q: Can I receive unemployment benefits from the NY Department of Labor while attending school online?

A: While it is usually not possible to receive unemployment benefits while attending college, because many college students choose not to work, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students could continue to get unemployment benefits in the State of New York. In order to continue to receive benefits, you must meet certain criteria that is set by the New York State Department of Labor.

Q: What is some of the criteria required to continue to receive unemployment benefits during college?

A: Availability Concerns: New York unemployment claimants must be willing and able to search for jobs if they wish to receive weekly benefits. When college starts, many students have schedules that would make it difficult to search for jobs. If you are taking night classes or online classes in college this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may still be able to qualify for unemployment, since those students will have more of an availability. The New York State Department of Labor is responsible for looking at each unemployment claim individually, which will allow them to determine if you are eligible to receive benefits.

Approved Training: New York compensation law allows claimants who are receiving approved training to skip the job search as well and receive extra benefit weeks in some cases. To qualify as approved training, it must take up at least 12 credit hours, be completed within 2 years, and the training must improve your ability to find employment in the New York job market. In order to qualify for approved training, you must note on your application that you are a student and the Department of Labor should contact you to go over the specific requirements.

Q: Can I receive unemployment benefits through my school if my work study is not available?

A: As of 2020, individuals must have earned at least $2,600 in covered wages during one calendar quarter to qualify for unemployment benefits. Covered wages are those that you earned from work that is insured by New York State unemployment insurance. Most work under a traditional employee/employer relationship is covered, working in any capacity for a school you were attending as a student however is not considered a covered wage. That excludes wages from most work study or financial aid sponsored positions.