Expanding SNAP Benefits for College Students in Pennsylvania.To address the growing concern of increasing food insecurity among college students, the state of Pennsylvania has taken a proactive step by temporarily broadening the criteria for eligibility in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).
Expanding SNAP Benefits for College Students in Pennsylvania
This progressive expansion aims to encompass specific college students who meet family income prerequisites, even if they wouldn’t typically qualify due to their student status under regular circumstances.
Eligibility Criteria for College Students
Under federal regulations governing eligibility, students aged 18 to 49, who are enrolled at least part-time in a university or college, generally do not qualify for SNAP benefits unless they fall into specific exceptions. These exceptions include maintaining employment averaging 20 hours or more per week, participating in a state or federally supported work and study program, having a disability, or being a parent to a child under six years old.
Notably, students residing in households where parents meet the requirements and receive SNAP benefits will not be considered part of the household unit unless they fulfill one of the aforementioned exemption conditions.
SNAP Benefits for Students in Pennsylvania: Expanding Possibilities
In most cases, college students who are enrolled at least half-time are not eligible for SNAP benefits unless they meet specific criteria for existing waivers related to work requirements. These waivers factor in various elements such as enrollment status, income, caregiving responsibilities, age, disability, and more.
With the introduction of this new flexibility, students participating in certain programs will qualify for the exemption if the program:
- Serves students from economically vulnerable households.
- Is currently operated by a state, local government, or an affiliated entity.
- Provides activities equivalent to at least one allowable activity under SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) criteria.
However, it’s important to note that for a college student to be approved for SNAP benefits, they must not be enrolled in a meal plan or a meal plan that offers more than 10 meals per week over a semester. Additionally, standard SNAP eligibility requirements, including income limits, must be met.
Applying for SNAP Benefits as a College Student in Pennsylvania
The application process for public assistance programs like SNAP has been made convenient. You can submit your application online through the official website dhs.pa.gov/COMPASS or call the Consumer Service Center at 1-866-550-4355.
Moreover, universities have the option to seek approval for an employment and training initiative by fulfilling the requirements outlined in the SNAP College Program Checklist.
DHS Secretary Val Arkoosh stated, “We understand that college students are managing various expenses while investing in their futures. The worry of fulfilling a fundamental need should not burden them.
I am pleased that the Shapiro Administration has introduced this new eligibility option to SNAP, ensuring that college students, who are focusing on their employability after graduation, receive assistance in meeting their essential needs. I urge higher education institutions across the Commonwealth to review the criteria for this newfound flexibility and promptly apply for program certification. This way, we can offer support to students who may be grappling with educational and personal costs.”
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