New Rules Allow More Students to Access Food Assistance Money

March 2, 2021
By: WSU News

Responding to studies that show the pandemic is exacerbating food insecurity for college students, the federal government recently changed qualification rules to make more students eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Aid Program. Eligible students can now receive $234 per month in the form of an EBT card, like an ATM card, for use at grocery stores, farmers markets, and department stores like Walmart.

Students now qualify if they:

  • Receive a MASSGrant or Pell Grant
  • Are eligible for work study (even if they do not have a work study job)
  • Have an “Estimated Family Contribution” of $0 (calculated when applying for financial aid)

More information about eligibility can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/snap-benefits-formerly-food-stamps.

Carlos E. Santiago, Massachusetts commissioner of higher education, wrote in a letter to students announcing the change, “There is no “shame” in using SNAP. It’s how I fed my family when I was a graduate student in college years ago. Without it, I would have had to drop out of school. I would never have earned my degree.”

According to survey results from Chegg.org, nearly one-third of students said they have experienced food insecurity since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, a third said hunger has “impacted their ability to study,” and more than half said they accessed an off-campus food bank at least once.

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