We have some exciting college student food security news.
1. DTA just announced important SNAP policy changes impacting MA college students. We are THRILLED to share these policy updates with you – details below.
2. The Board of Higher Education has just hired a new DHE Commissioner, Noe Ortega who will take the reins this fall as Commissioner Carlos Santiago retires. See 8/30 SHNS story.
3. DHE has finally released an RFP for the $3.7M in ARPA funds that the MA Legislature appropriated last December, Line Item 1599-2050 of Chapter 102 of the Acts of 2021. (Delay caused in part by internal protocol with Admin and Finance). Here’s a link to the COMMBUYs DHE RFP. We are taking a close look at the RFP to be sure it follows the Legislative language in the ARPA food security line item. DHE is doing an RFP zoom session to answer questions on Thursday, September 15th Register HERE.
Hot off the Press – DTA Policy Changes to Increase SNAP Access for Low Income Students:
Below is a summary of the SNAP student policy changes that DTA workers have been notified about, effective immediately!
- All financial aid is non-countable! DTA will no longer count ANY financial aid received by a student for SNAP or DTA cash programs. This includes loans, grants, scholarships, work study, assistantships, and fellowships. Up until now, only federal financial aid was non-countable, but DTA treated state and private financial aid as countable, depending on how it was used.
DTA has elected a federal option to ignore ALL financial aid – including state, local and privately funded financial aid. This also means that students no longer need to document their non-federal financial aid or which portion is for educational vs living expenses. The "EDUC-1" form is eliminated. This is HUGE!
- Self-declaration of student status, less verification required!
- Students attending a community college self-declare the name of the community college they attend, they no longer need to get a statement from the college nor verify their course of study. This eliminates the CCE-1 form (Community College Enrollment form) that students had to take to their colleges to fill out!
- Students who attend Ben Franklin Institute of Technology, Quincy College or one of the MA Vocational or Technical programs that provide post-secondary degrees are also SNAP eligible! Students can self-declare their attendance. (In the past, only the 14 Community Colleges and Quincy Colleges met this special rule, but DTA has officially expanded the list of eligible career and technical ed programs to both BFCIT and the state Voc/Tech programs that enroll adults in post-secondary certificate or degree programs.
- Students who receive a MassGrant (financial aid from the Commonwealth of MA) and/or a Pell Grant can self-declare their MassGrant or Pell Grant. Note: Currently students are SNAP eligible if receiving a full Pell Grant rule or have an “expected family contribution” (EFC) of $0 are two temporary COVID provisions, (receipt of MassGrant has been a long time SNAP eligibility option for students).
- Students awarded federal work study can self-declare their award. Students do not need to prove a work study job. They are SNAP eligible as long as they have not refused a job.
· How does self-declaration work in SNAP land? SNAP applicants can self-declare their student status a) verbally during their SNAP application phone interview with a DTA worker, b) including it in their SNAP application, or c) writing it on a separate piece of paper that is signed and dated and sent to DTA. Students are not required to give DTA proof unless information they provide is “questionable,” (e.g. the student status information does not add up with other information provided by the student or known to DTA). If DTA thinks information is questionable, DTA will advise the student the proofs needed.
The DTA self-declaration policy takes a HUGE burden off students, college staff and DTA staff – it effectively ends the “paper chase.” A deep bow to DTA for issuing this guidance.
Attached is a copy of DTA’s Online Guide 2022-73 announcing these changes in the Online Guide. We have been told that the actual OLG changes should be posted later today.