- According to a report by Ithaka S + R, a nonprofit educational research organization, lawmakers should simplify the right to participate in the supplementary nutrition program for university students and introduce permanent temporary protection against COVID-19, which is currently in effect.
- In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government expanded student access to SNAP, the nation’s largest food security program. However, these extensions will end soon when officials announce that the health emergency is over.
- Report published in April, also encourages lawmakers to fund campus positions to link students to government benefits. And state lawmakers could expand the types of educational programs that give college students access to SNAP, for example, by including career and technical education programs.
Students by default are not eligible for SNAP, and traditionally they have to jump through hoops to prove eligibility. Difficulty often causes students who might receive support to miss it.
Just over half of the students who are likely to be eligible for SNAP did not participate in the program, according to Report of the Office of Government Accountability for 2018. Between 2016 and 2018, half of California public college students surveyed faced food security, but only 22% of that group received SNAP benefits, according to a Ithaka S + R report.
The editorial board focused more and more on the problem insecurity of basic needs in recent years. There is a growing concern that college students, having just graduated from high school, may not have the family resources to help them pay for tuition, food and housing. And many colleges are increasingly serving adult students.
At the end of 2020, the pandemic and cost assistance package simplified higher qualifications so that any student eligible for on-the-job training or an expected family contribution of $ 0 could receive benefits.
Prior to the expansion, college students had several ways to receive SNAP benefits. For example, they used to qualify for SNAPs by participating in work and study programs, not just because they were eligible for them.
But access to work and study programs is uneven.
According to the US Department of Education, in 2018 more than 7 million students received Pell Grants. But only about 600,000 students received salaries under the work-study program.
Currently, the expansion of the coronavirus era will end after the government declared a health emergency. But the challenges students face will not go away once the pandemic subsides, says James Ward, a senior Ithaka S + R researcher and co-author of the report.
“Codifying these rules on an ongoing basis would help students who now have access to SNAP continue to have a level playing field,” Ward said. “The pandemic has certainly exacerbated problems with basic needs, but students have faced them before.”
Another pre-existing way to access SNAP for college students is to participate in state-run employment-based training and education. The report recommended a broader definition of the term “on-the-job training” so that more career and technical programs at public colleges could put a tick on students at risk.
Creating a policy that supports low-income students will create a strong workforce by increasing job readiness and earning potential among students, the report said.
“When you start to meet the needs of non-students with comprehensive services, you start to see improvements and better graduation rates. There is no reason to think that the solution to the food security problem will be different, ”Ward said.