The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of needy families so they can purchase healthy food and move toward self-sufficiency. To help ease the strain faced by vulnerable populations throughout the pandemic, eligibility for SNAP benefits has been expanded temporarily to allow students who are enrolled in postsecondary education to qualify if they meet certain criteria.
Under SNAPs normal rules students who enrolled at least ½ time weren’t eligible for benefits. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 signed by former President Trump expands eligibility to now include students who are either eligible for Federal Work Study or students who have a zero EFC on their SAR/ISIR.
Although students will still have to meet other criteria to be eligible for SNAP and receive benefits. Colleges can inform students of this benefit and help make referrals to state agencies that administer these benefits. According to the recent electronic announcement, there are several documents a financial aid office may provide to a student to assist them in applying for SNAP benefits.
- Verification of eligibility to participate in a work study program (including the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program) may be found on the financial aid award letter provided to the student by the institution of higher education, or in a letter from the institution of higher education provided to the State at the request of the student.
- Verification of an expected EFC of 0 may be found on a financial aid award letter or Student Aid Report (SAR), or in a letter from the institution of higher education provided to the State at the request of the student.
- In addition, all students receiving the maximum Federal Pell Grant have an EFC of 0. In the 2020-21 award year, the maximum Pell Grants are $3,172 per semester for students enrolled full-time, $2,379 per semester for students enrolled three-quarter-time, and $1,586 per semester for students enrolled half-time. Verification of the Pell Grant amount may be found on the financial aid award letter and may be used as verification that a student has an EFC of 0. However, not all students with an EFC of 0 receive a Pell Grant. For instance, students may not receive an award if they do not meet other student eligibility requirements such as completing Federal verification.
FSA provided one other key reminder – you must obtain prior written consent of the student, before sharing FAFSA data with any State agency or entity for the purposes of applying for or receiving SNAP benefits.