SNAP Policy Brief: College Student Eligibility

Even after accounting for all financial aid, many low-income college students have thousands of dollars of unmet need, even when they attend low-cost institutions such as community colleges. One way to close this gap is to help students understand and access public benefits that can help them temporarily meet basic needs.  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) is among the largest public benefit programs, now reaching over 47 million individuals.  It is one of the few benefit programs that is available to individuals without regard to family status or disability.  Since 1977, there have been restrictions on college students receiving food stamp benefits.  However, there are also a number of exceptions to these restrictions, and many low-income college students, especially the growing share of “non-traditional” students, may qualify for one of these exceptions.