You still can get financial aid if you're receiving food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. On a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, you're asked whether you receive SNAP or other public assistance benefits. If you answer yes, you may qualified for the simplified needs test, which ignores all your assets when making the aid determination.
If you're receiving SNAP benefits, you've already proven to the state that you're in need of assistance. When you indicate on your application that you -- or your parent, if you are a dependent -- are participants in the program, generally your statement alone is enough for the U.S. Department of Education. However, your school may request verification, such as an award letter or SNAP benefit statement. Refer to your state's SNAP website if you need to access any documents related to your case. You can also contact your state's SNAP hotline to request a benefit statement.
How SNAP Affects Financial Aid
Your SNAP benefits won't affect or reduce your financial aid benefits. Since SNAP generally results in an automatic expected family contribution of zero, you're classified as a full-need student. The actual amount of your aid package, including the Pell Grant and student loans, is based on your EFC, cost of attendance and enrollment status. For 2015-2016, the maximum Pell Grant award is $5,775. Your school may offer additional funding, including need-based scholarships and grants.
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Financial Aid and SNAP Eligibility
SNAP eligibility for students varies based on the state. Generally, you'll qualify if you're enrolled at least half-time. Your household's gross income is limited to 130 percent of the federal poverty level. There also are asset limits in most states. As of 2015, the countable asset limit is $2,250 per household. If there's a person over 60 or disabled in your home, the limit is $3,250. If your grants and student loans exceed the cost of tuition, the remaining funds are disbursed to you. Financial aid won't count as an asset, but may be considered income based on the source. Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, Perkins Loans and federal college work study money are excluded. Money from private and state grants, private student loans and state-work study does count, but only the amount that exceeds your tuition, fees, books, child care and other educational expenses.