Starting Oct. 1, monthly SNAP food assistance benefits will go up by an average of $36 per person, the largest increase in the program’s 46-year history. Here’s what you need to know about how to qualify for increased food assistance—which you can get even if you’re a student.
Everyone in the SNAP program will receive additional aid
The hike is the result of the Department of Agriculture revising its Thrifty Food Plan, the list of food items the government uses to estimate the minimum cost of a nutritious diet. Outside from inflation adjustments, the number hasn’t increased since 1962.
On average, the monthly benefits will provide an additional $36 on top of the pre-pandemic monthly allotment of $121 per person—a 25% per month jump. This change is timely, too, as COVID-relief subsidies that added 15% to SNAP benefits are slated to end in October, just as the new, permanent increases kick in.
How do I qualify for SNAP food assistance?
Eligibility for the SNAP benefit is based on a few factors related to household expenses, but generally speaking, your net income must be at or below the poverty line.
Students ages 18-49 enrolled in college at least half time are not eligible for SNAP. However, some exceptions apply, like if you work 20 hours as a student, or if you have a physical or mental disability. More details on exceptions can be found here.
Also, as part of COVID-relief legislation, these additional exceptions still apply:
- You’re a student eligible to participate in state or federally financed work study during the regular school year. (Your college or university determines whether you are considered eligible for work study.)
- You’re a student who has an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) score of zero in the current academic year. Students receive an EFC after applying for financial aid.
If you qualify, your SNAP benefit will be delivered via mailed electronic debit (EBT) cards, which can be used at more than 238,000 authorized retailers nationwide.