You have to have money in your benefit account and they usually have some formula where you have to have earned so much in the right "quarter". It will depend on how long you've worked and how much you've made and how long it's been since (if ever) you received unemployment in the past.
It's way too much math for me, but most states have an unemployment office website that explains that sort of thing.
Basically if you only had a job for a month or so and got fired or laid off and hadn't worked in a while before that, sometimes there won't be enough money in there for you to be able to get benefits.
As for the reason: you have to have been laid off for something unrelated to your work conduct, or if fired, fired for a reason not related to work conduct (i guess they just didn't like your hair?
) , or if you quit, you must have quit with "good cause" (sexual harassment, discrimination, unresolved safety issues, etc) and you must have tried to work out any problems FIRST (and generally have some sort of proof), before quitting. If you were fired, and the boss says it's for one thing and you are saying that's not the case or that you had no warning or did nothing wrong, then you might end up having to fight and appeal and so forth to get your benefits. Sometimes you won't get them in the end.
Example: my last job was a long term temporary position (supposed to be a year or two)... but I was laid off due to contract negotiation issues between the temp agency and the client/company where I was actually working. The client heard first and let me know that all temps would be laid off within 3 days, across the board.
Well, since i was working for a temp agency, there is a rule in Texas where you have to give them 3 days to find you another assignment, before you can apply for unemployment. You have to notify them, of course, that your most recent assignment is no more, and then give them the 3 days to find you something new, and you must keep in touch with them during all that time period.
Despite my emails (with read receipts) and phone calls daily to the temp agency, when I filed for Unemployment on day four, the *&#@& woman at the staffing agency had the ballz to try and tell the Unemployment people that I had failed to notify them
that I was out of work. Nonsense, as I'd notified them BEFORE the lay off (I was given 3 days warning by the client, not the staffng agency, who SHOULD have been the one to notify me, but anyway)...and I'd also called and emailed EVERY day after the layoff.
Long story short, the Unemployment office woman took my word over the staffing agency woman's and I got my benefits but it delayed things. This sort of thing happens often, any time there is any way a company thinks they can get out of the unemployment claim, in my experience and the experiences of others close to me.
The unemployment office generally only wants to know if you work or take a temp job, and they want you to do a job search with certain requirements... they didn't ever ask about assets or living situation or school or any of that. The school thing is a possible problem though, because to get UI you have to be "available for work" so I think that would depend on when the person is going to classes and their course load and so forth. I don't know about that because I'd just finished the semester when I was laid off so I didn't have to deal with the school question in my case.
Again every state has different rules... but that's the general. I'm in Texas so it may be totally different elsewhere.