45. What if I am a college student?

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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

Special SNAP eligibility rules apply to college students who are between the ages of 18 and 49 and enrolled half-time or more in a post-secondary institution (a college that requires students to have a high school diploma or GED to enroll). Most colleges consider half-time as typically two courses, 6 to 11 credits and full-time as typically 12 credits or more.

While the student rules sound complicated, many students are SNAP eligible in Massachusetts! You may qualify for SNAP benefits if you are low-income and meet any of the following:

  • you attend a Community College, the Ben Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology or Quincy College (a municipal college)
  • you are enrolled in an adult career and technical education program (many offered by Voc/Tech high schools in MA)
  • you receive MASSGrant as part of your financial aid package
  • you have a work study job (any hours of work), or your college awarded you work-study and you have not refused a job offer
  • you in a DTA-approved SNAP education or training activity, another government agency-sponsored education and training program or a non-government on-the-job training program
  • you care for a child living with you who is under age 6, or a child age 6 to age 12 and you are a single parent enrolled full time or you lack childcare to both attend school and work part-time
  • you receive TAFDC cash benefits as a family or a pregnancy,
  • you receive a disability-based benefit such as Social Security or SSI, EAEDC cash benefits, Veterans benefits or MassHealth as disabled
  • you have an impairment or disability that impacts your ability to both attend college and work 20 hours/week
  • you are enrolled in college through the Mass Rehab Commission or a mental health or substance abuse rehabilitation program OR
  • you are working an average of 20 hours a week or more, or an average of 80 hours/month.

The student eligibility rules are here: 106 C.M.R.§§362.400 through 362.420.

For more information, including Know Your Rights fliers and SNAP outreach fliers and infographics on SNAP for students, see: Masslegalservices.org/Food4Students

Students on summer break/vacation

You remain SNAP eligible while on summer or vacation break as long as enrolled for the upcoming term. You are no longer considered “continuously enrolled once you graduate, are suspended, expelled, drop out, or you are planning to enroll in college in the coming months but the term has not started yet1.

Students living with spouse or parents

If you live with your parents and you are under age 22, you must be part of their SNAP household, even if you purchase and prepare your own food separately. If you live with your spouse, you must be together in a SNAP household. See who cannot be a separate SNAP household.

Students with meal plans

If you live on campus and get most (more than 2/3) of your meals through your meal plan, you do not qualify for SNAP. However, you may be eligible for SNAP when you are home during summer break, assuming you meet the other student status rules.

Financial aid and loans

The DTA SNAP rules do not count any financial aid in calculating your SNAP benefits. This includes federal, state, local and private financial aid. It includes loans, grants, scholarships, stipends and work study.

Verifying college student information

You can tell DTA in writing or verbally (by phone or in person) where you attend school and which of the above rules you meet. DTA should not ask for any proof of your student status unless the information you give them is found “questionable.” (DTA does need proof of countable income. See what if DTA does not accept the proofs you sent them.


Terry applies for SNAP over the phone with DTA and sends in proof of his identity and MA residency. He tells the worker he is a Roxbury Community College student. DTA accepts his verbal statement and does not ask for any proof documents.

DTA Online Guide

See Appendix G for links to the DTA’s BEACON 5 Online Guide for this section.

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