Nearly 25,000 NC families applied for $335 ‘extra credit’ grant

CHARLOTTE — Hundreds of thousands of low-income families in North Carolina received another chance to apply for a $335 “extra credit” grant to help parents pay for remote learning and daycare.

The deadline to apply was Dec. 7 and according to the state, 24,946 families applied. Each approved application will result in a $335 check for an eligible family, distributing over $8 million of aid for those in greatest need.

Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke has been following these developments ever since the state came up with the program. Here’s how it works:

If you filed taxes for last year, the state is sending you the money automatically. If you didn’t have to file taxes for last year (in other words, you didn’t earn enough money), you had to apply for the grant.

Action 9 reported a Charlotte mother, Legal Aid, and others sued the state, saying the program left out many of the households that need the money most.

They claim that only 15,000 low-income families applied -- and around 200,000 missed out. Legal Aid representatives told Action 9 that a judge ruled in the plaintiff’s favor. People had the opportunity to apply for the grant until 2 p.m. on Dec. 7 through 335forNC.com.

If you were supposed to get the $335 automatically, or if you had to apply for it and did, you will still get the money. This should not slow things down for you.

Lisa Barnhart didn’t know about the $335 extra credit grant until a neighbor told her about it.

“I’m doing it all by myself,” Barnhardt said. “I have to pay all the bills. I have to put food on the table.”

Barnhart called the state and was heartbroken when she learned the first deadline passed. Barnhardt, a mother, is legally blind and raises two sons on her own after their father died.

She is also fighting cancer and relies on her monthly disability checks. She said the money would be a huge relief.

“To some people, $300 might not seem a lot,” she said. “But to other people, it’s like $1,000. It would make a difference to someone.”

Charlotte attorney Adam Doerr is one of the attorneys with Robinson, Bradshaw and Hinson, who brought the lawsuit forward pro bono to open up the application process again for families who need it the most.

“That can pay the internet bill for six months or pay for childcare, so someone can go out for an interview,” he said. “And that’s what the money was intended for.”

Barnhart contacted Doerr and found out that she’d be able to apply under the new extension.

“I felt so happy,” she said. “Somebody understands us and is fighting for us and taking up for us!”

>> Important note: People should not call the Department of Revenue since the system is not in place yet. It is going to take a few days to set up and we will update you on what to do when we have the details.

10 QUESTIONS (AND ANSWERS) ABOUT NC’S $335 EXTRA CREDIT GRANT

1. What is the money for?

It is to help parents pay for remote learning and daycare.

2. Is it only for North Carolina residents?

Yes. This is a North Carolina program. It’s not for South Carolina residents.

3. Is every parent who has a child under 17 years old eligible for the money?

Yes.

4. Do I have to apply for the money?

If you filed taxes for last year, you should get the money automatically. If you didn’t have to file taxes for last year, you had to apply for the money.

5. I missed the deadline, can I still apply?

Many parents who had to apply didn’t know, and missed the deadline. A Charlotte mother, Legal Aid, and others sued the state to re-open the application process. The state didn’t fight it and the judge ordered the state to re-open the process. You can now apply here.

6. When is the deadline?

2 p.m. on December 7, 2020.

7. Do I get $335 total or $335 for each child?

Total.

8. What if I have a new address?

If you have a forwarding address with the post office, you should be OK. If not, you need to fill out this form.

9. Do grandparents get the money if they are the ones raising the child?

Yes, as long as the child lives with them for more than half the year, is related to them, and doesn’t provide more than half his or her own support.

10. What does a real check look like?

Here’s a picture:

Original story: Local mother of 4, living in hotel sues NC over $335 ‘extra credit’ grant

Ronshell Parker is suing North Carolina over the $335 “extra credit” program which is meant to help parents with remote learning and daycare.

The lawsuit claims parents had less than a month to apply and that the state didn’t do enough to tell them in time.

According to the lawsuit, Parker is a single mother of four, works at McDonald’s, earns less than $10 per hour, and is living in a hotel. It says part of the reason she’s living there is the free internet so her daughter can do schoolwork. It also says she didn’t have to pay taxes for last year, so she had to apply for the $335 and that she didn’t know about it.

Legal Aid is another plaintiff in the case.

“I don’t know if it was intentional or unintentional, but it doesn’t really matter because the effect of the program is that the people that need it most aren’t getting the help and the people that need it least are automatically getting it,” Legal Aid’s Tommy Holderness told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke.

According to the lawsuit, only 15,000 low-income families applied and around 200,000 were left out while wealthy parents get the money, “including some families with annual incomes exceeding half a million dollars.”

Another mother, Lisa Barnhart, who is not part of the lawsuit, told Stoogenke she’s a single mother of three, legally blind and on disability. She says she could have really used that extra $335.

“A lot of us didn’t know about it,” she said. “It would be very beneficial for the ones that didn’t know about it at all. I had another neighbor who didn’t know about that either and she has four kids so she would, she would benefit from it too.”

The North Carolina Attorney General’s office represents the state in lawsuits. It won’t comment on a case that’s still going on.

Both sides plan on a hearing in Raleigh Friday. The plaintiffs are asking the judge to issue an injunction.