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Standard Utility Allowances

Last Published: 07/16/2018

Standard Utility Allowances (SUAs) are standardized utility expense figures used in place of actual utility costs to calculate a household's total shelter costs. (High shelter costs can result in a deduction from a household's net income, which can mean a higher SNAP allotment.) States calculate SUAs based on average utility costs in the State, or in local areas of the State. SNAP rules require States to annually update their SUAs to reflect changes in actual utility costs.

It is generally in a household's interest to use the SUA, as SUAs are designed to capture utility costs experienced by most households. Most States have elected to make their SUAs mandatory in order to simplify the SNAP certification process. In States with mandatory SUAs, the household may not claim actual expenses in lieu of the allowance for which it qualifies. In States with optional SUAs, a household can elect to claim actual utility expenses, but must provide documentation, such as utility bills, to verify all the costs that it claims. The data presented here represent State SUAs for Federal Fiscal Year 2016 as provided by FNS Regional Offices.

  • HCSUA is a multi-utility allowance that always includes heating and cooling.Different states use different terms to describe these allowances.  For the purposes of this table:
  • LUA is a multi-utility allowance that never includes heating or cooling. 

In Arizona, Guam, Hawaii, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia the SUA’s vary based upon the SNAP household’s size.  In Alaska and New York, the SUA’s vary based upon location.