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SNAP Eligibility Rules/Rights for College Students

Date: 
03/17/2021
Author: 
MLRI
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College students are continuing to struggle with tuition costs and shrinking financial aid. Many students are eligible for SNAP benefits but not accessing them. This webpage gives you information on who is eligible - especially during COVID - and how to apply. As a backdrop to the growing food insecurity among college students, it is worth noting that

  • First Lady Dr. Jill Biden is calling on Congress to support for free community college access, see her Feb 2021 interview in People Magazine."We're going to make sure students have the support they need to cross that finish line. We're going to invest in programs that prepare our workers for jobs of the future."
  • In December 2020, Inside Higher Education (12/10/20) reported that food insecurity among college students has persisted during the Pandemic, citing the Chegg.org survey of 1,000 students done between Oct. 28 and Nov. 6, 2020.
  • In January 2019, the Goverment Accountability Office (GAO) released a detailed report highlighting the growth of food insecurity on campus and lack of student awareness of/access to SNAP, including in Massachusetts. See The Altantic (1/9/19), Millions of College Students are Going Hungry, featuring the GAO findings.

Important SNAP Eligibility Changes for Students during COVID. 

  • Under the Consolodated Appropriations Act of 2021, Congress extended SNAP eligibility to a) students who receive work study regardless of a work study job, and b) students with an "Expected Family Contribution" of EFC of $0 and students who received a Pell Grant.
  • USDA issued a detailed Policy Memo dated Feb 2, 2021 and the US Department of Education isssued a media advisory on March 19, 2021 regarding both Higher Ed Emergency Relief funding for students and urging colleges and financial aid offices to do direct outreach to help students enroll in SNAP benefits.
  • The MA Department of Higher Education (DHE) informed certain students of these expanded rules around February 3, 2021. See DHE letter, attached below. MLRI has updated a student flier as well. 

MLRI's FAQs re SNAP for students with COVID-19 changes

In addition to the SNAP/student fliers above, here's a 3-min video (pre-COVID): My SNAP Rights: Massachusetts College Students and MLRI's Hunger Fellow 2019 report on ways to promote SNAP EBT Access on Massachusetts Public College Campuses!

DTA current and related policy guidance re SNAP and students:

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