PM 03-04-03-b: Eligible Students of Higher Education

WAG 03-04-03-b

To be eligible to participate in SNAP, a student who is enrolled at least half time in an institution of higher education must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • Be under age 18 or age 50 or over.
  • Be physically or mentally unfit.
  • Be working in a paid job an average of 20 hours per week or, if self-employed, working an average of 20 hours per week and receiving weekly earnings at least equal to the Federal minimum multiplied by 20 hours (see WAG 25-06-08).
  • At the time of application, be approved to participate in a State or federally funded work study program during the regular school term and the student must anticipate actually working during that time. 
    • The exemption begins the month the school term begins or the month the State or federal work study is approved, whichever is later. The exemption continues through the end of the month the school term ends or the student refuses an assignment.
    • The exemption does not continue between terms when there is a break of a full month or longer. The exemption does continue if the student works in a state or federal work study assignment during the break. 
  • Be responsible for the care of a dependent household member under the age of 6 (only one adult may claim this exemption). When there is more than one adult in the home, the student must provide the majority of the childcare to meet this requirement.
  •  Be responsible for the care of a dependent household member age 6 through 11 and does not have adequate childcare available to enable the student to attend class and work an average of 20 hours per week or take part in a work study program.
    • childcare is adequate and the student is ineligible when the child(ren) is receiving childcare at least 24 hours per week (time spent in school does not count as childcare); or
    • there is someone in the SNAP unit age 18 or older, other than the student, who is available to provide the care. A person who is physically or mentally impaired is not available to provide child care.
  • Be a single parent enrolled in a school of higher education and responsible for the care of a dependent child under the age of 12, regardless of the availability of adequate childcare.
  • Receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) under Title IV of the Social Security Act.
  • Be enrolled as a result of participation in the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills program under Title IV of the Social Security Act or its successor program.
  • Participating in an on-the-job training program. A person is considered to be participating in an on-the-job training program only during the period of time the person is being trained by the employer.
  • Self-initiates placement or is assigned to or placed in an institution of higher education through or in compliance with the requirements of one of the programs listed below:
    • A program under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) of 2014;
    • A program under Section 236 of the Trade Act of 1974; An employment and training program under the Food Stamp Act, such as a TANF Work and Training Program or SNAP Employment and Training Program;
    • An employment and training program for low-income households that is operated by a State or local government, including a program under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006, administered by a community college that will lead to employment. Some examples of career and technical programs offering certificate or a diploma that will lead to employment are data entry occupations, medical and health care careers, HVAC and refrigeration, hospitality and tourism management.

Temporary Student Exemptions

revised manual textThe Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, authorized the use of two temporary student exemptions to help more students qualify for SNAP during the COVID-19 pandemic. The two exemptions are being phased out according to the timeframes set forth by Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) due to the federal public health emergency ending May 11, 2023.

revised manual textA student of higher education may qualify for a temporary exemption if an initial application is filed by 06/09/2023 or a REDE application is filed by 06/30/2023, and the student does not meet an existing exemption under regular SNAP rules but meets either of the following: 

  1. The student  is eligible to participate in a State or Federally funded work study program during the regular school year, as determined by the institution of higher education. The student does not need to be anticipating or expecting to work during the school year; or
  2. The student has an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 in the current school year. The EFC is an index number that college financial aid staff use to determine how much financial aid a person qualifies for at their school.

Note: See WAG 03-04-03-b on how to verify these 2 exemptions.

revised manual textInitial Applications

A student who files an initial application on 06/10/2023 and after must meet a regular student exemption and all other eligibility requirements to qualify for SNAP.

revised manual textActive Cases with Students

A student who is currently active for SNAP and was determined eligible under a temporary student exemption retains this exemption until their next REDE. REDEs submitted 07/01/2023 are the first REDEs affected by this change.

revised manual textREDE Applications

A temporary exemption may still be allowed for a student who files a REDE application by 06/30/2023. If eligible for a temporary exemption and all other eligibility requirements are met, the student is approved for SNAP. At the student's following REDE, the student must meet a regular student exemption.

Beginning with REDEs filed effective 07/01/2023, the student must be eligible for a regular student exemption and meet all other eligibility requirements to qualify for SNAP.

 Note: To qualify during the summer break, the student must continue to meet one of the above requirements.

Meals on Campus

new manual textResidents of institutions are not eligible for SNAP participation. Dormitories are considered institutions when they provide students the majority of their meals. When a student can demonstrate that the dormitory does not provide him or her a majority of his meals, the student may participate when otherwise eligible.

Students who receive the majority of their meals (50 percent or more of three meals daily) through either a mandatory or optional meal plan are considered residents of an institution (PM 04-05-04) and are ineligible for SNAP, regardless of meeting a student exemption. This includes students living on or off campus who buy a meal ticket from the institution. It does not matter if the purchase of the meal ticket is required or by choice.

Students who meet one of the student exemptions and do not receive the majority of their meals from a meal plan are not residents of an institution and may be eligible for SNAP, if they meet all other eligibility requirements.

Dormitory Costs (without meals) 

  • Dormitory costs paid by eligible students of higher education may be permitted as an allowable shelter expense for SNAP if the dormitory costs are solely for shelter and does not include meal fees as part of the costs.
  • The expense may be allowed as a shelter cost when determining expedited service.
  • Students typically pay dormitory costs up-front in a one-time payment for the semester or quarter. If paid as a one-time payment, the charges may be considered continual charges and can be prorated accordingly.
  • Verification is not needed unless it is questionable that the student pays for their own dormitory costs and if a fee for meals is included in the costs.