Food Benefits

Special Criteria for Students of Higher Education

Students who are between the ages of 18 to 49 who attend higher education at least half time must meet additional special criteria to be eligible for SNAP.

If you are in this age group and attending higher education then you must meet one of the following criteria to be an eligible student:

  • Be physically or mentally unfit for employment. This means you cannot both work and go to school. You may be asked to provide something from your doctor supporting this.
  • Be a paid employee working an average of 20 hours each week. The hours worked in an internship or externship do not count towards these hours.
  • Be self-employed at and working at least 20 hours each week and have countable monthly income of at least $1247 before business costs.
  • Be awarded state or federally funded work-study and be assigned a position with a start date in the current term or semester.
  • Be responsible for the care of a child in your household. (Specific age requirements apply.)
  • Be receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) cash assistance or Tribal TANF.
  • Be in a Workforce Investment Act (WIA) training program.
  • Be receiving Unemployment Compensation benefits.
  • Be assigned to, placed or voluntarily participate in an Employment and Training program. Students attending Community College meet this exemption if the college verifies enrollment in a course(s) or a program of study meeting one of the following definitions:
    • A Career or Technical Education (CTE) course or program of study as defined under Perkins IV.
    • A Career Pathways course or program of study as defined by the Oregon Education Department and Community College; or
    • Enrolled in a course considered by the Community College to be remedial, adult basic education, literacy or English as a second language.

Income: If you meet one of the criteria above and your monthly income is below the income limits, you may be eligible.

Questions and Answers about student eligibility

I attend a trade school. Is the school considered higher education?
Trade or vocational schools that require a high school diploma or GED meet the definition of higher education. You would need to meet one of the special criteria.

I am attending the local community college to complete classes for my GED. Am I considered a student of higher education?
You are not considered in higher education and therefore don’t need to meet student criteria.

I have a meal plan at school, but it doesn’t cover all of my meals, would I be eligible for food benefits?
No, if you are receiving any kind of a meal plan from your school, whether you choose to use it or not, you are not eligible to receive food benefits.

I am on break from school right now, am I still considered a student?
If your break is during a normal school break such as spring break or summer break, you are still considered a student and must meet special criteria.

I am not receiving work study because the school has no more funding. They told me if there were available funds I would qualify for work study. Does this make me eligible for food benefits?
No, you must have an actual award of work study. This means you would normally have a state or federal award letter that includes the work-study award and be assigned a work study job and will work in that work study job during the current term.

I am age 50 and attending my local community college part time. Am I eligible for food benefits?
Since you are over age 49, we do not look at student criteria in determining your eligibility.

I do not meet any of the criteria; can the other people in my home receive food benefits?
Yes. Student eligibility is based on the individual student. If there are other people in your house, they may apply for benefits. If you are an ineligible student, your income will not be considered when determining how much they will receive in benefits.

If I’m receiving financial aid will it affect how much I receive in food benefits?
It depends. Some types of financial aid do not count (loans, specific types of grants and any Title IV funds). If you are receiving benefits through the Veterans Administration or private scholarships those do count as income and may affect the amount of food benefits that you receive.

Do I have to be receiving financial aid in order to receive food benefits?

If I think I am eligible for food benefits, how do I apply?
See the Eligibility and Application page for information about applying for food benefits.

What type of verification will I need to provide?
The worker who contacts you for an interview will let you know what types of verification you will need to provide.

I am a community college student enrolled in automotive courses. How do I know if I am in taking courses that would meet an exemption?
Many community college students will now be eligible for SNAP; your school will review your schedule and determine if you are enrolled in a program or courses that meet the exemption. Your school’s website also has information about programs and courses that would be considered CTE or career pathways.​