SNAP Eligibility Rules/Rights for College Students

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MLRI

College students are continuing to struggle with tuition costs and shrinking financial aid. Many students are eligible for SNAP benefits but are not accessing them. This webpage gives you information on who is eligible and how to apply.

According to the a Massachusetts Hope Center Survey in the Fall of 2020, 38% of students in two-year colleges and 29 % of students at four-year colleges reported experiencing food insecurity in the previous 30 days. The report also highlighted significant racial and ethnic disparities: 75 % of Indigenous, 70 % Black, and 70 % of American Indian or Alaska Native students experienced food insecurity, housing insecurity or homelessness, compared to 54 % of White students."  And since the onset of COVID, food insecurity on college campuses has increased. See Health Affairs Forefront, Food Insecurity On College Campuses: The Invisible Epidemic (January 2022).

SNAP rules for students in Massachusetts. 

During Covid, Congress passed a low to allow students to qualify if they a) had an "Expected Family Contribution" (EFC) of $0, received a full Pell Grant or were "eligible for" work study. These temporary rules ended on Jun 9, 2023 - but students getting SNAP continue to be eligible under these rules for the remainder of their SNAP certification period.

And most Massachusetts students will remain SNAP eligible under the "regular" Massachusetts SNAP rules for students. This includes students who:

  • receive a MassGrant,
  • were awarded work study and have not refused a work study job,
  • get TAFDC benefits or care for a child under age 12,
  • have an impairment or disability, or are in school through the Mass Rehab Commission (MRC)
  • are in college through the SNAP Employment and Training Program 
  • attend a community college or voc/tech school - see below. 

Students at community colleges, Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology and voc/tech programs‚Äč

 The following college students are also SNAP eligible, and do not have to meet the other student rules listed above: 

  • community college students (both associates degree and certificate programs)
  • students attending the Ben Franklin Institute of Technology
  • students enrolled in post-secondary career and technical education programs offered by many Massachusetts voc/tech high schools

In addition, since August of 2022, DTA allows students to self-declare their community/voc college status by reporting to DTA the name of college where they are enrolled. This policy change eliminated the long-standing DTA forms that students had to bring to their financial aid and academic offices.  Note that students still have to meet the SNAP financial and other eligibility rules (US citizenship or legal immigration status)  See DTA Online Guide with SNAP student updates.

State, local and private financial aid not countable for SNAP and cash.

On 8/29/22, DTA also revised the SNAP and cash rules (see DTA Online Guide Student Section) to stop all state, local, private financial aid (loans, grants, stipends, scholarships, assistantships) as non-countable income. Prior to this, only federal financial aid was non-countable and students had to verify that their non-federal financial aid was not available for living expenses. That rule has changed, and students no longer need to get DTA forms filled out by the financial aid offices.  See DTA Online Guide with SNAP Student updates.

FAQs and Resources for students:

DTA current and related policy guidance re SNAP and students: