SNAP now available to qualifying college students

We know that it’s been a challenging year for many. College is expensive and you don’t have to choose between paying for your education and paying for food.

The Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) has made changes to the SNAP program that could, if you are eligible, help you pay for groceries (food items only) and help you stay in college.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has expanded college students’ access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP benefits (formerly called Food Stamps). The federal government has also boosted the amount of the benefit for someone who purchases and prepares their food alone (and is not residing in a dorm and receiving all their meals through a meal plan with the school).

If you have an estimated family contribution (EFC) of $0 on your most recent FAFSA or are eligible for work study, even if you are not participating, the SNAP benefit is up to $234 per month! Right now, because of the pandemic, everyone who qualifies for SNAP gets the maximum amount for their household size (see chart below).

Eligible students can use SNAP benefits to buy food through an EBT card (which can be used like a debit card at qualifying retailers). SNAP can be used to buy food at supermarkets, local grocery stores, corner stores, farmer’s markets, and online from Amazon, Walmart, and Aldi (through Instacart).

There is no shame in using SNAP

It’s how many Americans are able to feed their families as they’re navigating life and the curveballs that we sometimes encounter. It’s also a lifeline for when we need it most and can help us as we’re working hard to achieve our goals. 

There are additional SNAP rules and income eligibility criteria you must meet to qualify. For example, you may need to apply for SNAP with other people you live with, including:

  • Your parents – if you are under 22 years old;
  • If you are a parent, your children who are under age 22;
  • Your spouse; and
  • Anyone else with whom you live and share your meals.

If you are a member of a household already receiving SNAP, please submit this letter to your county JFS office so that you could potentially be added to your household’s case.

Below are the current SNAP eligibility income limits and monthly benefit amounts:

Household Size Monthly Gross Income Limit Monthly Maximum SNAP Benefit Amount*
1 $1,383 $234
2 $1,868 $430
3 $2,353 $616
4 $2,039 $782
5 $3,324 $929

Here’s how to apply for SNAP:

To learn more about Ohio EBT, including income and eligibility requirements, visit the Office of Communications at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

You can also go to FreshEBT.com or download the free Fresh EBT mobile app to see nearby stores and farmer’s markets that take EBT and check your balance online.