Fill your cart, slide your Oregon Trail card: The scoop on food stamps
Many college students have to figure out how to save money in the most efficient ways possible. There has been a drastic increase in the number of students who have signed up to receive federal food stamps.
Food stamps are a part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The main goal of the program is to help improve the nutritional health of low-income households and people who cannot necessarily meet their needs on their own. On average, people are able to receive about $250 a month per household. College students normally receive $200 a month from the government.
While in school, it is difficult to have a full-time job and pursue an education. Most college students only work the 10 hours allotted in federal work-study from an institution.
According to the Oregon Department of Human Services, a student who is attending higher education at least half-time and is below the income limit is eligible for receiving benefits from the government. Students commonly fit into the criteria of working an average of 20 hours a week or being awarded for work study. Their monthly income cannot exceed $1,679.
Many students are unaware that they are eligible for receiving food stamps and do not use this as a source when they need support. Students, however, cannot get food stamps if more than half of their meals are provided through a meal plan.
Universities across the country encourage students to enroll in the program for additional assistance. The average college student is already in debt from the rising costs of obtaining a higher education.
There has been controversy about whether it is right for students to receive funds because the unemployment rate is still high. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the unemployment rate is 9.8 percent. Oregon has an unemployment rate of 8.6 percent.
In 2011, 45 million people received federal assistance in the form of food stamps. As a national trend, it seems that the economy is slowly improving. College students are now finding that this assistance can benefit them throughout their years in school and save them money that would have otherwise been spent on food.
The food stamps can be used for basic food items, such as grains, fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy. Hot food, nonfood items, medicines, alcohol and tobacco cannot be purchased with benefits.
To apply for food stamps, people can go to the local Department of Human Services (DHS) office to apply or fill out the application online on the DHS website. Once a person is accepted, they receive one of the Oregon Trail cards with a set amount for the person to spend.
Qualifications to receive federal benefits
If you are in this age group and attending a higher education institution, then you must meet one of the following criteria to be eligible for food stamps:
1. Be physically or mentally unfit for employment.
2. Be a paid employee working an average of 20 hours each week.
3. Be self employed at least 20 hours each week and have countable monthly income of at least $1,247 after business costs.
4. Be awarded state or federally funded work-study and be assigned a position with a start date in the current term or semester. If the school does not have any work-study positions available, a student awarded work-study is eligible.
5. Be responsible for the care of a child (specific age requirements apply).
6. Be receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) cash assistance.
7. Be in a Workforce Investment Act (WIA) training program.
8. Be receiving Unemployment Compensation.
9. Be participating in at least one of the Employment Department training programs.
**Information provided from the Oregon Department of Resources**
Ivanna Tucker/Features editor
Ivanna Tucker can be reached at email@example.com.