Skip to main content

SNAP Benefit Changes for Students

In the most recent stimulus package, major changes to the eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will help college students get the support they need to meet their basic needs. The new changes to the eligibility requirements will increase access to SNAP benefits to an estimated 6 million students(1)! The stimulus bill also increases the SNAP maximum allotment amount by 15%, which provides about $25 more per person per month(2). Increased access to SNAP benefits is proven to reduce food insecurity, therefore supporting student success.

What’s New. Students who meet the income and eligibility requirements, as well as are enrolled at least half-time, now qualify under two major changes to the criteria.

  1. Students who are eligible for a work-study program. There is no longer the requirement of needing to be enrolled in a work-study program due to the decrease in availability during COVID-19.
  2. Students with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0 based on their FAFSA for the academic year. This sets a precedent for using a zero-dollar EFC as a form of categorical eligibility for SNAP(3).

What are SNAP Benefits? SNAP benefits provide supplemental income to purchase food. An eligible student receives an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which is used like a debit card at the grocery store. The EBT card uses money in your SNAP account to pay for food items. You can buy items such as: breads and cereals; fruits and vegetables; meat, fish, and poultry; dairy products; seeds, and plants that produce food. Items not covered by SNAP include: beer, wine, or liquor; cigarettes or tobacco; vitamins and medicines; food that can be eaten in-store; prepared foods; and non-food items like pet food, soaps, paper products, and household supplies. 

Are You Eligible as a Student? 

You must be… And meet ONE of the following:
  • Qualify under state income restrictions, for most, resources must be under $5,000
  • Age between 18 – 50
  • Physically and intellectually fit
  • Enrolled at least half-time in an institution of higher education
  • A citizen or legal immigrant 
  • Eligible for a state or federal work-study program
  • Employed and paid for a minimum of 80hours/month
  • Self-employed for a minimum of 80hours/month and earning at least the Federal minimum wage
  • Responsible for the care of a dependent under the age of 6
  • Responsible for the care of a dependent between the ages of 6 – 12, without adequate childcare
  • A single parent responsible for the care of a dependent child under the age of 12
  • Receives benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Families in Idaho Program
  • Assigned or placed in an institution of higher education through the WIOA program, the JOBS program, JSAP program, a program under Section 236 of the Trade Act of 1974, or a state or local government program for employment and training 

How To Apply? You can apply over the phone, in person, by mail, email, or fax(4). 

  • Apply over the phone by calling 1-877-456-1233 
  • Apply in person by setting up an appointment at your closest field office
  • Apply by mail, email, or fax
  • Be prepared to provide this information with the application:
    • ID card
    • Household income and resources
    • Housing costs
    • Current monthly expenses
    • If applicable, immigration status

Changes to the SNAP eligibility requirements can provide additional support to students who need assistance. Most students are unaware that they are eligible for SNAP benefits. You can help by spreading the word and sharing this newsletter with your students, colleagues, and friends. 

(1) https://ir.library.louisville.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1597&context=jsfa

(2) https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/snap-benefit-boost-would-get-needed-food-aid-to-the-poorest-participants

(3) https://hope4college.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Statement_ConsolidatedAppropriationsAct2021_UPDATED.pdf

(4) https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/services-programs/food-assistance/apply-snap