Bicameral Bill Aims to Broaden Temporary SNAP Benefits

Related Topics in the Ref Desk: Expected Family Contribution (EFC)Need Analysis; Pell Grant

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Staff Reporter  

New legislation from congressional Democrats seeks to address student hunger by granting more low-income students continued access to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as create a new grant program to help institutions of higher education support students.

The Student Food Security Act of 2021 would expand SNAP eligibility for students who are eligible for work-study, have a $0 expected family contribution, meet the financial eligibility criteria for a maximum Pell Grant, or are independent students whose household is otherwise eligible. Additionally the legislation would require the Department of Education (ED) to increase outreach to potentially eligible students and collect data on food and housing insecurity.

Further, the bicameral legislation — garnering support from Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chis Murphy (D-Conn.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), along with Reps. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), Al Lawson (D-Fla.), and Norma Torres (D-Calif.) — would establish a $1 billion per year grant program for institutions to research, plan, and implement outreach and coordinate student resources.

SNAP was previously expanded as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act to allow college students to more easily access the program, temporarily removing work and eligibility requirements for students — a change that will be in place for the duration of the public health emergency due to the coronavirus.

Recently, the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) sent an email to 2020-21 FAFSA filers with an expected family contribution (EFC) of zero to alert them of expanded eligibility rules for SNAP.

"Far too many college students struggle to meet their basic needs while they get their education — and the pandemic has made this problem even worse,” Warren said. “As students take on a mountain of student loan debt, they shouldn't have to choose between paying tuition and eating. Our bill will ensure college students can succeed without going hungry."


Publication Date: 5/12/2021

James C | 5/12/2021 8:45:02 AM

It would be ideal if these benefits could be applied directly to their meal plans, for on campus students.

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