COVID 19 - New Temporary Students of Higher Education Exemptions Continue Until Further Notice

illinois Department of Human Services logo


Policy Memo


The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, was signed into Federal law on December 27, 2020. Division N, Title VII, Subtitle A, Section 702(e) of the Act temporarily expanded student eligibility at Section 6(e) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008.  The Act temporarily provides two additional exemptions for students enrolled in a school of higher education and continues to be in effect until 30 days after the COVID-19 public health emergency is lifted.  Staff will be notified when the COVID-19 public health emergency ends.

This policy memorandum serves as notification to the Family Community Resource Centers (FCRCs) of the continuation of the two new exemptions for students of higher education until further notice. 

A student may still qualify for SNAP if they do not meet one of the student exemptions under regular SNAP but meet one of the following temporary exemptions:

  1. have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 in the current school year; or
  2. are eligible to participate in a State or Federal work study program during the regular school year, as determined by the institution of higher education.  Allow the new temporary work study exemption to students who are eligible to participate in a State or Federal work study program but are not anticipating working because they have not secured a job.


  • FCRCs should not routinely deny applications of students who may qualify for a temporary exemption.  No special verification is needed, unless the student's statement is questionable.  Accept the statement of students who say they have been approved to participate in a State or Federal work study program or have am expected family contribution of $0.  Document the student's statement in Case Comments.
  • The HSC must assist in obtaining verification when needed, provided the household is cooperating with the application process, and must accept any reasonable documentary evidence provided by the household.
    • State or Federal Work Study Program
      • A student's statement may be considered questionable if he or she does not know if they have been approved for a State or Federal work study program.  If needed, verification of eligibility to participate in a work-study program may be found on the financial aid award letter provided to the student by the institution of higher education or a letter from the institution of higher education.
    • Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0
      • Students who state they are receiving the maximum 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.
  • If the student does not know the amount of their Pell grant or if they have an EFC of $0, verification of an expected family contribution may be found on a financial aid award letter, or a letter from the institution of higher education. Not all students with an EFC of $0 receive a Pell grant.
  • Use the current exemptions in IES, enrolled in a work study program or works more than 20 hours per week, when allowing the temporary work study exemption or the $0 EFC exemption.
  • All other student eligibility exemptions remain in effect. Students must meet all other financial and non-financial criteria to be eligible for benefits.  Document in Case Comments the exemption allowed. 
  • For more information, See MR #21.07: COVID 19 - New Temporary Student of Higher Education Exemptions January 2021 through June 2021, dated 03/01/2021.

[signed copy on file]

Grace B. Hou

Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services

Forms referenced: