Can College Students Apply For Food Stamps?

college students food stamps

Can College Students Apply For Food Stamps?

In this community resource guide, you will learn whether or not college students can get food stamps. Most college students have limited incomes because most of their time is spent going to class during the day. Tack on the cost of tuition, books, and living expenses, and it becomes difficult for a lot of students to make ends meet. This is where food stamps can come in handy because they provide low-income individuals with monthly benefits that can be used to purchase food or groceries. But, there are some requirements that college students must meet before they can apply for food stamps. In this guide, you will learn what those requirements are as well as how to apply for food stamps if you are a college student. So, whether you are struggling to pay for groceries each month or just want to know more about the food stamp program, keep reading for information on college students and food stamps.

What Are Food Stamps?

Food stamps are a government-provided program that provides low-income individuals with monthly benefits that can be used to purchase food or groceries. Most people know this benefit as “food stamps” but the official name is SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The food stamp program is managed by your state’s health department and this is who you will need to contact in order to apply for assistance. You can use the table below to find the SNAP program in your state.

StateEBT Customer Service Number NumberPhone Number To Apply For Food StampsState Food Stamp Websites
Washington DC888-304-9167202-724-5506Website
New Hampshire888-997-9777603-271-9700Website
New Jersey800-997-3333800-687-9512Website
New Mexico800-843-8303800-283-4465Website
New York888-328-6399800-342-3009MyBenefits New York _Website
North Carolina888-622-7328800-662-7030Website
North Dakota800-630-4655800-755-2716Website
Puerto Rico877-467-4832787-289-7600WebWebsitesite
Rhode Island888-979-9939855-697-4347Website
South Carolina800-554-5268800-616-1309Website
South Dakota800-604-5099877-999-5612Website
Virgin Islands866-884-2868340-774-2399Website
West Virginia866-545-6502800-642-8589Website

Can You Apply For Food Stamps While A Student In College?

Yes, college students can apply for food stamps, but there are requirements that a student must meet in order to qualify for SNAP benefits. General requirements for food stamps include:

  • Being a U.S. citizen or an eligible non citizen.
  • Living in the state you are applying for food stamps.
  • Having a low monthly income. You must fall underneath food stamp income guidelines. The income limit you must fall below is 130% of the federal poverty guideline.
Household Size Gross monthly income (130 percent of poverty) Net monthly income (100 percent of poverty)
1 $1,396 $1,074
2 $1,888 $1,452
3 $2,379 $1,830
4 $2,871 $2,209
5 $3,363 $2,587
6 $3,855 $2,965
7 $4,347 $3,344
8 $4,839 $3,722
Each additional member +$492 +$379

You can learn more about general eligibility requirements and SNAP income limits by visiting the USDA website.

Are College Students Eligible For Food Stamps?

Students who are enrolled in an institution of higher education (i.e., college, university, trade/technical school) more than half-time are not eligible for SNAP unless they qualify for one of the exceptions.

Editor’s Note: If you are a full time student you can still qualify for SNAP benefits if you meet one of the student exemptions. Later in this article, we will provide a listing of those exemptions.

The college you attend determines what is “half-time” enrollment. Some people ask, “why can’t college students get food stamps,” and the quick answer to this is that those who are ineligible are full-time students who do not meet any of the exemptions. 

What Is Half-Time Enrollment?

Half-time enrollment is the status of student you are. Your specific college will determine what half-time enrollment is. Here is an example from My Courses Support:

  • Full Time – 12 or more credit hours per semester
  • Three Quarter Time – 9 to 11 credit hours per semester
  • Half Time – 6 to 8 hours or less per semester

Again you will need to speak to someone in your admissions office to see to learn about your enrollment status. If you are a half-time student according to your college, then you may qualify for SNAP benefits. Even if you are a three quarter or full-time student you still may qualify for food stamps. You would just need to meet one of the exemptions.

How Does SNAP Determine Who Is A Student?

If you are enrolled at least half-time in an institution of higher learning, you are considered a student. Your university, college, or technical school determines how many hours make you a half-time student. In addition to being a half-time student, you must meet the general food stamp requirements regarding income limits, being a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, and living in the state you are applying for benefits in.

what are food stamps?

What Does SNAP Consider As An Eligible College/School?

SNAP considers the following as eligible schools:

  • Anyone enrolled in a regular curriculum at a university or college.
  • If you attend a business or trade school or…
  • If you go to a vocational school that requires a high school education.

Being enrolled half-time at any of these types of schools (university, college, or trade school) is a requirement to get SNAP benefits as a student.

Food Stamp Exemptions For Students

If you attend school more than half time, you will need to meet one of the exemptions below to get food stamps as a college student.

Food Stamp Exemptions For Students
Work at least 20 hours a week in a job. 
Take care of a child who is younger than 6 years old. 
You are a single mother, who is a full time student, that takes care of a child under 12 years old. 
Have a mental or physical disability
You are younger than 18 years old or older than 50 and in college. 
Enrollment in an on-the-job training program while in college could qualify you for the student SNAP exemption.
You get TANF. This is also known as “welfare”. 
Currently in a state or federally funded work-study program. 
Find the complete list of college student exemptions on the USDA website


Yes, college students can get food stamps. If you are a half-time student and meet the regular requirements for SNAP benefits, then you may qualify for food stamps. If you are a full time student, you will need to meet one of the exemptions to get food stamps as a college student. Common exemptions that college students meet to get SNAP benefits include:

  • Working 20 hours a week.
  • Taking care of a child under 6 years old.
  • Being a single mom who is enrolled in college full-time and taking care of a child under 12.
  • Plus 10 other exemptions for college students needing SNAP benefits.

To apply for food stamps you will need to contact the health and human services department in your state. You can contact the SNAP hotline at 800.221.5689 to get connected to your state’s food stamp program. If you have more questions regarding food stamps for college students, leave a comment below or speak to someone in your state about SNAP benefits. Similar Articles Of Interest:

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