Best Kept Secrets Webinar: The Federal Government Expanded SNAP Eligibility for College Students, But Many Never Heard About It

Best Kept Secrets Webinar: The Federal Government Expanded SNAP Eligibility for College Students, But Many Never Heard About It

This webinar explores a vital food security resource for college students: expanded eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamps program. In December 2020, Congress enabled students who are eligible for work-study or whose household reports $0 Expected Family Contribution in their financial aid application to qualify for SNAP without work requirements. The expanded eligibility continues until the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, which is renewed every 60-90 days and is likely to continue at least through year-end 2022.

Unfortunately, many college students may not benefit from the expanded eligibility established by Congress because they are unaware of its existence—or mistakenly believe that they do not qualify.  

In Best Kept Secrets, The Hope Center explored the extent to which states were upholding their duty to inform students about expanded SNAP eligibility. Just 8 states provided relevant information on their agency websites about expanded SNAP eligibility and also took additional steps to encourage students to apply for SNAP. Another 24 states provided relevant information on their websites. Eighteen states did not post any information on their websites about expanded SNAP for students at all. About 766,000 students who are likely eligible for SNAP at public colleges under the $0 EFC criterion attended institutions in the eighteen states that conducted little to no outreach. 

In our Best Kept Secrets webinar, the Hope Center presents its findings and hears from three experts on SNAP eligibility and outreach: 

  • Peter Granville, Senior Policy Associate, The Century Foundation
  • Hope Lane-Gavin, Fellow, Health Equity, Center for Community Solutions
  • Clantha McCurdy, Senior Deputy Commissioner, Access & Student Financial Assistance, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education

Some resources discussed during this webinar:

The Century Foundation on access to SNAP in higher education:

Congress Made 3 Million College Students Newly Eligible for SNAP Food Aid. Here’s What Must Come Next.

Promoting College Affordability through SNAP: Ten Steps for Michigan

Pathways to Simplify and Expand SNAP Access for California College Students

Ohio partnership to promote expanded SNAP eligibility for college students:

Webinar: https://www.communitysolutions.com/webinar-snap-college-student-eligibility/

SNAP memorandum to institutional leaders: https://www.communitysolutions.com/public_testimony/memorandum-increasing-college-student-retention-covid-19-pandemic-snap-access/

Massachusetts Department of Higher Education

Letter from Commissioner Santiago: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/20494303-mass-dhe-commish-santiago-letter-to-college-students-re-snap

Other initiatives related to combatting BNI in Massachusetts

California Department of Social Services

Temporary changes to CalFresh Student Eligibility: flyer, FAQ, sample social media