Can college students get EBT? EBT is an essential resource for many families across the United States. College is an expensive venture for most students. The tuition, books, housing, food, and other expenses can quickly add up.
For students coming from low-income backgrounds, having access to food stamps, commonly known as EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer), can be a significant resource.
However, many college students need to know their eligibility for the EBT program and are missing out on the benefits. This comprehensive guide will explore whether college students can receive EBT and what they need to know to get started.
Can College Students Get EBT?
Firstly, let’s talk about how college students can get EBT. The EBT program is offered by the government to low-income families and individuals. College students can get EBT if they meet the program’s income and asset guidelines. The income threshold for EBT varies by state. Still, as a general rule, college students whose annual income falls below 130% of the federal poverty level or around $17,400 for an individual in 2021 can qualify for EBT. The requirements may also vary based on whether the student is financially independent or dependent on their family.
As of 5/4/2023, college students and people receiving EBT benefits may be eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits if they meet specific criteria. According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, students must be “unfit for employment” to qualify for SNAP benefits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service states that only students participating in state or federally-funded work-study programs are eligible for SNAP benefits.
In addition, college students living in dorms who receive more than half their meals from a meal plan are not eligible for SNAP benefits. However, college students between 18 and 49 enrolled at least half-time in the course of study that requires attendance may also qualify for SNAP benefits, depending on their state.
The federal government does not allow struggling parents to receive SNAP benefits to cover the food costs of any college student living at home who is ineligible for SNAP themselves. However, some states have implemented temporary programs allowing college students to receive SNAP benefits regardless of their enrollment status or whether they live on or off campus.
It is important to note that eligibility requirements can vary from state to state, so it is vital to research the specific guidelines in your area before applying for SNAP benefits. Additionally, socioeconomic factors such as income level and family size can influence an individual’s eligibility for assistance programs like SNAP, which could limit access to these resources for those who need them most.
How to Apply for EBT
The application process for EBT can vary by state, but you can usually apply online, by phone, or in person at your local Department of Social Services office. Before applying, gather the necessary documentation, including proof of identity, income, and residency.
In some cases, students may need to provide additional documentation, such as school enrollment confirmation or evidence of academic progress, to prove their eligibility for EBT. Once your application is approved, you’ll receive an EBT card that works like a debit card, and you can use it to purchase eligible food items at participating retailers.
Once the expiration period arrives, students must apply under the new application period rules to ensure they are still eligible.
What to Buy with EBT As a College Student
With an EBT card, you can purchase food items the government approves, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish, dairy products, bread, and cereals. You can also buy snacks and seeds or plants that will produce food. However, certain items cannot be purchased with an EBT card, such as alcohol, tobacco products, vitamins, and medicines.
In addition to these items, you can buy some surprising things with your SNAP benefits. These include spices and oils for home preparation of meals as well as sweeteners like sugar or honey. You can even use your EBT card to purchase birthday cakes or gift baskets from approved retailers!
Students should also keep in mind when they shop online some online retailers accept EBT cards as well, such as Amazon.
How is EBT Evolving?
EBT is evolving to become more accessible for college students. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and state governments have evolved the SNAP program to recognize that many college students struggle financially and need food assistance to succeed academically.
Most recently, some states have implemented temporary programs allowing college students to receive SNAP benefits regardless of their enrollment status or whether they live on or off campus.
With increased access, more college students can apply for SNAP benefits and receive aid during these challenging times. Additionally, online retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Target are now accepting EBT cards from customers shopping with an EBT card, expanding opportunities for those who receive assistance with their groceries needs.
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College is an exciting and life-changing experience, but it has challenges. Food insecurity is a prevalent problem on college campuses, and many students struggle to make ends meet.
While EBT may not cover a college student’s food and living expenses, it can provide relief and security by supplementing their food budget and stretching their resources.
If you’re a college student in need of assistance, take the time to explore your eligibility and application options for the EBT program. The added support may make the difference in ensuring your academic success and overall well-being.