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3.15.1 Student Eligibility

7 CFR 273.5

Anyone (age 18-49) enrolled half-time or more in an institution of higher education is ineligible for FoodShare unless he or she meets one of the following exemptions below.

 

An institution of higher education may be defined as:

 

Student Eligibility Exemptions:

  1. An 18 year-old (or older) student attending high school or adult basic education courses (HSED/GED).

  2. Employed at least an average of 20 hours a week with earnings.

    1. Compliance can be determined by calculating whether the student worked an average of 20 hours per week over the period of a month, a quarter (calendar), a trimester (Fall, Winter, Spring), or a semester (Fall semester (1st) and Spring semester (2nd ). This is in line with the different ways contractual and fluctuating employment is budgeted. See 4.3.2 Earned Income for budgeting policy.

    2. The payment can be received with regular frequency (weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly) or as a one-time payment at the beginning or end of the employment period. There is no minimum compensation that must be received so long as income is received.

  3. Self-employed at least an average of 20 hours a week with self-employment earnings (after self-employment expenses are subtracted) equivalent to at least the federal minimum wage.

    1. Weekly earnings must be at least $7.25 x 20 hours = $145 per week.

    2. Use student monthly hours to calculate a weekly average. Students whose employment hours fluctuate from week to week may be determined eligible for FoodShare, provided they maintain an average of 20 hours per week at minimum wage.

  4. Participating in a State or federally financed work study program during the regular school year:

    1. The student must be approved for work study at the time of application, the work study must be approved for the school term, and the student must anticipate actually working during that time.

    2. The exemption shall begin with the month in which the school term begins or the month work study is approved, whichever is later. Once begun, the exemption shall continue until the end of the month in which the school term ends, or it becomes known that the student has refused an assignment.

    3. The exemption shall not continue between terms when there is a break of a full month or longer unless the student is participating in work study during the break.

  5. Responsible for the care of a dependent household member under age six. If two people exercising parental control are in the food unit, allow student status to only one person per child.
  6. Responsible for the care of a dependent household member who has reached age six but is under age 12 if the agency determines adequate child care is unavailable to enable the student to attend class or work activities. If two people exercising parental control are in the food unit, allow student status to only one person per child.
  7. Is a single parent enrolled in an institution of higher education on a full-time basis, as determined by the institution, and is exercising care and control of a dependent food unit member under the age of 12. To apply this provision there must be only one biological or adoptive parent or stepparent in the same food unit as the child. If there is no biological or adoptive parent or stepparent living with the child, another full-time student living with the child may qualify as an eligible student under this provision if the student has parental control of the child and does not live with his or her spouse.
  8. Receiving a Tribal TANF cash payment, W-2 cash payment, or working in a W-2 Trial Job. Assigned to or placed in an institution of higher learning by Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) .
  9. Enrolled in a W-2 employment position or other TANF-funded program under Title IV of the Social Security Act.
  10. Physically or mentally unfit for gainful employment. Verify the claim if it's questionable, such as through receipt of temporary or permanent disability benefits, or a statement from a physician, or certified psychologist.
  11. Participating in an on-the-job training program. This exemption applies only during the period of time the person is being trained by the employer.
  12. Is assigned to or placed in an institution of higher education through or in compliance with the requirements of FSET, a program under the Job Training Partnership Act of 1974, or a program under section 236 of the trade Act of 1974.
  13. Is enrolled in an educational program that is designed to be completed in two years or less and obtaining certification or a diploma from the program is expected to lead to employment.

 

Example 1: During an interview for FoodShare, Jack, reports that he is a full-time student at Northern Technical College for phlebotomy and plans to graduate in the next year. Jack is enrolled in a two-year degree program that is expected to lead to employment.

 

Example 2: When Carla applies for FoodShare, she reports that she is enrolled half-time at Madison Area Technical College and is taking cooking with herbs, pottery and jewelry making. No other student exemptions are met. Carla would not be an eligible student, because she is not enrolled in a program that will lead to employment.

 

Example 3: When Bill applies for FoodShare, he reports that he is enrolled in a four-year nursing program, but only has two years left in the program. Bill would not be an eligible student because the program was designed by the college to be completed in four years.

 

Example 4: Bella participates in an internship for a semester (5 months). Bella works a total of 400 hours over the semester. At the end of the internship, Bella will be paid a stipend of $1,000. The hours would be averaged over the 5 months 400/5 totaling 80 per month or 20 per week. The stipend of $1,000 will be averaged and budgeted over the 5 month semester and $200 of earned income to will budgeted per month. Bella is an eligible student.

 

Note: A student who lives in campus housing and purchases a meal plan that provides more than half of their meals is not eligible for FoodShare, even if the student does not eat meals from the meal plan. If the meal plan is available, but the student does not purchase it, then they may be eligible for FoodShare.

 

Note: IRS tax dependency status does not impact FoodShare eligibility determinations. A student may be claimed as a tax dependent by his or her parents and still qualify for FoodShare if he or she meets all other non-financial and financial eligibility criteria.

 

A student is enrolled as of the first day of the school term through normal scheduled class periods, vacation, and recess unless he or she:

 

Temporary COVID Exemption Policy

Effective January 1, 2021 through the calendar month following the end of the Federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.

  1. Students are eligible to participate in State or Federally financed work-study program during the regular school year, as determined by the institution of higher education or
  2. Students have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 in the current academic year, as determined by the institution of higher education.

 

Note: for the change to the work-study exemption, the student does not need to actually be participating or anticipate they will participate in work-study, just be eligible to participate.

 

If a student applies for FoodShare or is a member of a FoodShare household, the new exemptions must be explored. For ongoing cases, the new exemptions must be explored and eligibility must be re-determined. Similarly, the new exemptions must be explored for any new student added to the household. These new student exemptions remain in effect for FoodShare applicants and members through the calendar month following the end of the Federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.

 

Verification:

Workers must assist in obtaining verification when needed, provided the household is cooperating, and must accept any reasonable documentary evidence provided by the household. A student may be required to sign a specific release form provided by the school before any FAFSA information can be released by the school to the worker. If all efforts to obtain documentary evidence fail, workers must accept the member’s statement as best available information.

 

Verification of eligibility to participate in a work-study program may be found on the financial aid award letter provided to the student by the institution of higher education or in another letter from the institution of higher education.

 

Verification of an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 may be found on a financial aid award letter, Student Aid Report (SAR), or in another letter from the institution of higher education.

 

In addition, all students receiving the maximum Pell grant have an EFC of $0. In the 2020-21 award year, the maximum Pell grants are $3,172 per semester for students enrolled full-time, $2,379 per semester for students enrolled three-quarter-time, and $1,586 per semester for students enrolled half-time. Verification of the Pell grant amount may be found on the financial aid award letter and may be used as verification that a student has an EFC of $0. However, not all students with an EFC of $0 receive a Pell grant.

 

FoodShare Employment and Training

Students enrolled in higher education at the time of the FoodShare application and then found eligible for FoodShare may request to be referred to FSET to participate in activities other than education. Activities may include job search, work experience, or self-employment. FSET cannot provide reimbursement for expenses related to education for students who self-initiate enrollment in higher education.

 

Work Registration

A FoodShare-eligible student who meets the criteria in this section is exempt from the FoodShare work registration requirements.

 

ABAWDs

If an applicant or member is determined to be a FoodShare-eligible student based on the criteria in this section, the applicant or member is a non-ABAWD.

 

 

 

This page last updated in Release Number: 21-03

Release Date: 03/29/2021

Effective Date: 01/01/2021