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To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must be available for work and actively seeking work. This means:

  • Nothing would stop you from starting a job right away if one was offered to you, and;
  • You are looking for work that matches your skills every week.

For some people attending school – particularly full-time school – means they are not available to start work or that they are not really looking for work. For others, their school schedule is more flexible and they can make a good work search every week (and start work immediately if offered). Your eligibility for unemployment benefits depends on your situation.

In the initial application process, and also in the weekly payment request process, you should tell us if you are attending school. You should also tell us how going to school affects your availability to work and your work search. Staff will use this information to determine your eligibility for unemployment benefits.

Because everyone’s situation is a little different, we always encourage anyone who lost a job to apply for unemployment benefits. Don’t just decide on your own that you probably won’t be eligible. The law can be complicated and you are NEVER expected to know whether you should apply.

PUA eligibility for high school students

The CARES Act created several new, federally funded unemployment benefit programs to help people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of these programs, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), is available to people who:

  1. Are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits
  2. Lost employment due to COVID-19
  3. Meet state work search requirements and other eligibility criteria

Under a Minnesota law passed in 1998, high school students are statutorily ineligible for regular unemployment benefits. However, under a recent court decision, some high school students may now qualify for PUA benefits.

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