The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

More MA Low Income College Students Eligible for SNAP! Major Policy Changes Released TODAY!!

We are thrilled to let you know that DTA released policy guidance in order to qualify more low-income college students for SNAP benefits!  MLRI has been working closely with DTA over the past six months to figure out policy options to address food insecurity of college students who do not qualify for SNAP because they do not receive Work Study, work 20 hours a week, care for a child or meet the other narrow student rules.  The Urban Institute recently issued a report, Accessing Food Insecurity on Campuswhich found food insecurity in 2015 among households with students in 4-year and vocational education were 11.2 and 13.5 percent, respectively and similar to national levels.

Attached is a copy of the DTA Online Guide Transmittal 2017-52.  We have also posted these materials and revised our Know Your Rights SNAP College fliers here:  https://www.masslegalservices.org/food4students

DTA has made changes in THREE areas:

Students with MASSGrant Financial Aid:

DTA has issued policy that students whose financial aid package includes the needs-based MASSGrant benefit may be SNAP eligible. DTA has issued this policy because MASSGrant is funded with the TANF block grant. Under federal law, TANF-funded benefits qualify for an exemption under the student rules.  Note, the student must meet the other SNAP eligibility rules on household composition, citizenship/immigrant status, financial etc. 

Many very low income MA students receive a MASSGrant. Some may already be receiving SNAP because they meet the other student exemptions (such as receipt of federal Work Study), or ineligible because they live in a household with others and their household income is over the SNAP gross income limits. But many students may well be SNAP eligible with this policy change! For more on MASSGrant eligibility: http://www.mass.edu/osfa/programs/massgrant.asp

Quincy College Students:

This past spring, DTA agreed that students who are enrolled at Quincy College can qualify for SNAP on the same basis as other community college students.  Quincy College is a municipally-administered 2 year college that receives Perkins funds and meets the criteria of the SNAP rules.

Remember: Any student in a Massachusetts community college may be SNAP eligible regardless of work, work study or other rules if they are in a course of study that meets the Perkins Act definition of Career and Technical education program or would likely lead to employment. Most community college and Quincy College courses meet this definition.  Both high schools and community colleges receive federal Perkins Act money to boost their career and technical education programs for students (this is different from low-interest Perkins loans provided directly to students). 

Simplified DTA Student Forms:

With MLRI's recommendations, DTA has revised both forms for colleges to fill out for students seeking SNAP.

Educational Income and Expense Form:

The EDUC-1 form has been simplified to ask very basic Y/N questions about receipt of financial aid. These changes are significant and greatly simplify the process for colleges and students! 

Community College Verification Form: 

The Community College form CCCE-1 has been revised to list all 15 Massachusetts Community Colleges as well as Quincy College.  Any student who is in one of these 2-year colleges more than half-time only needs to show their course of study falls under Perkins, will lead to employment OR that they get work study.

NEXT STEPS:

Spread the word!  Students who otherwise meet the SNAP eligibility rules should both file a SNAP application and send in the completed Community College or EDUC-1 form.

Students under age 22 who live with their parents and students who are married need to apply with their family members because of the household composition rules. If a student's family is already getting SNAP, the head of household needs to contact DTA to boost the SNAP benefits. (DTA is also exploring ways to identify ineligible students within existing households).

THANK YOUs!

First, MLRI wishes to expend a HUGE thanks to DTA Commissioner Jeffrey McCue, Interim SNAP Director Brittany Mangini and her SNAP policy team. DTA was 100% open to our policy recommendations to reduce food insecurity among low income students and to speedy implementation.

Second, we'd like to acknowledge some of the folks who helped MLRI figure out and advocate for these college student eligibility changes including:  MLRI volunteer advocate Beth Capstick; Harvard Law 3L Esamadeen Ibrahim; Nichole Davis  and Emily Marano of Single Stop (HQ); Kathleen O'Neill, Single Stop Bunker Hill CC and LaToya Shuler, Single Stop UMass; Beth Devonshire, UMass Boston, Clantha McCurdy, MA Dept of Higher Education.  And a very special thanks to the memory of Lauren Arms Ledwith, who supported this initiative from the onset and looked for every option to maximize access to critical nutrition benefits.


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