To get SNAP benefits, you must apply in the state in which you currently live and you must meet certain requirements, including resource and income limits.
Most SNAP eligibility rules apply to all households, but there are some special rules for students attending an institution of higher education described here. If you are not a student, you should read the general SNAP eligibility rules.
During the COVID-19 public health emergency, a law was passed that made more students temporarily eligible for SNAP. As of July 1, 2023, the temporary student exemptions are no longer available to students applying or recertifying for SNAP. Some students may no longer be eligible for SNAP or may need to provide additional information when they recertify to continue their SNAP benefits. For more information, see "How does the end of the temporary student exemptions affect me?" below.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Are students eligible for SNAP?
Generally, students attending an institution of higher education (i.e., college, university, trade/technical school) more than half-time are only eligible for SNAP if they meet an exemption. The institution of higher education determines what is considered ‘half-time’ enrollment. Students who meet an exemption must also meet all other SNAP eligibility requirements.
- Who counts as a student for SNAP purposes?
You are considered a student if you are enrolled at least half-time in an institution of higher education. The number of hours considered as half-time enrollment is determined by the institution of higher education.
If you are enrolled less than half-time, the student restrictions on SNAP eligibility do not apply to you. You may be SNAP-eligible if you meet all other SNAP eligibility requirements.
- What is considered an institution of higher education?
For SNAP purposes, you are attending an institution of higher education if you are enrolled in:
- A regular curriculum at a college or university that offers degrees; or
- A business, technical, trade, or vocational school that normally requires a high school diploma or equivalent (GED).
Many colleges offer special programs that are not part of the regular curriculum. These can include remedial education, continuing or community education, professional development, English for speakers of other languages, and workforce development/training programs. If you are enrolled in programs like these, you are not considered to be enrolled in an institution of higher education when you apply for SNAP. Therefore, if you meet all other eligibility criteria, you do not need to meet a student exemption to be eligible for SNAP.
- What is considered at least half-time enrollment?
The institution of higher education determines what is considered half-time enrollment. Your college, university, or school can tell you your enrollment status.
- What are the student exemptions for SNAP?
If you are a student and you meet SNAP eligibility requirements, you may be eligible for SNAP if you meet one of the following exemptions:
- Are under age 18 or are age 50 or older.
- Have a physical or mental disability.
- Work at least 20 hours a week in paid employment.
- Participate in a state or federally financed work study program.
- Participate in an on-the-job training program.
- Care for a child under the age of 6.
- Care for a child age 6 to 11 and lack the necessary child care enabling you to attend school and work 20 hours a week or participate in work study.
- Are a single parent enrolled full-time in college and taking care of a child under 12.
- Receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) assistance.
- Are assigned to, placed in, or self-placed in a college or other institution of higher education through:
- A SNAP Employment and Training (SNAP E&T) program;
- Certain other E&T programs for low-income households, which are operated by a state or local government and have an equivalent component to SNAP E&T;
- A program under Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) (PL 113-128);
- A Trade Adjustment Assistance Program under Section 236 of the Trade Act of 1974.
If you are not sure whether you meet one of the exemptions, contact your local SNAP office to find out how these exemptions may apply to your household circumstances.
- I’m on a campus meal plan. Can I still get SNAP?
If you receive the majority of your meals through either a mandatory or optional meal plan, you are ineligible for SNAP. Meal plan structure may vary from institution to institution, so state agencies should fully explore your circumstances to determine what portion of your meals are covered by the plan. You can find additional guidance on the treatment of meal plans here.
- How does the end of the temporary student exemptions affect me?
If you are a student who applied or recertified for SNAP before July 1, 2023, you may have been certified under a temporary student exemption. You do not need to take any action at this time. If you are still a student when you next recertify for SNAP, you will have to meet a regular student exemption in order to keep receiving benefits.
If you are a student applying or recertifying for SNAP on or after July 1, 2023, the temporary exemptions do not apply to you. You must meet a regular student exemption to be eligible for SNAP.