Single Stop and the College Student: What resources can we assist with


Hey Students! There are some special rules for college students when they access public benefits. The following blog post provides information on six types of resources that you could potentially be eligible to receive.

Food Benefits


Students who are on a meal plan that covers half or more of their meals are not eligible for FNS. Other students between 18 and 49 who are enrolled at least half-time (as defined by the institution) and are physically and mentally fit must meet one of the qualifications below to be eligible. Note that student status is retained for college students during normal school recesses until there is break in enrollment status. The student eligibility requirements include:
• Working an average of 20 hours per week (or 80 hours per month)
• Participating in a state- or federally-financed work study program during the regular school year
• Caring for a dependent household member under the age of 6
• Caring for a dependent household member ages 6-11 and lacking adequate child care to attend school and work 20 hours per week or participate in work study
• Being a single parent caring for a dependent household member under age 12 and being a full-time student
• Receiving Work First Family Assistance
• Being assigned to or placed in college as part of certain government programs including Workforce Investment Act, the FNS Employment & Training program or a government-sponsored employment and training program for low-income households equivalent to an employment and training component, the Trade Act, Work First Employment Services, and the North American Free Trade Agreement.
• Participating in an on-the-job training program.

These 18-to-49-year-old students are exempt from the work requirements for FNS. People who are under 16, 60 or older, or 16 or 17 and not the head of household are also always exempt. However, 16- and 17-year-old students who are the head of household and students 50-59 must be attending school or an employment training program at least half-time to be exempt. Educational assistance used for living expenses such as room and board is counted as unearned income. Other educational assistance used for tuition is not counted,.


There are no special rules for college students. They must also go to a WIC Center to be screened for eligibility and cannot have it done at their campus health clinic.

Educational assistance used for expenses related to cost of attendance are excluded from income, but assistance used for room and board and dependent care expenses is included.

Cash Benefits


Most educational assistance is not counted as income; however scholarships offered by civic groups or the institution and sports scholarships are counted. Learn more at

Post-secondary education is considered at state work activity for the Work Requirements. Typically, state work activities supplement federal work activities in an employment plan, but counties have great flexibility to combine state and federal work activities to meet the required hours.

Recipients will have their 24-month time limit waived for up to 36 months when participating in post-secondary education with at least a 2.5 grade point average or its equivalent. This does not affect the 60-month time limit or counting toward the Work Participation Rate.


Many college students under the age of 24 are restricted from applying for Section 8 housing, but college students are generally able to apply for other available housing resources. Younger college students may benefit from referrals to youth shelters where available.

Tax Credits


One way for a person to be considered a tax dependent is if they are a “qualifying child.”The age requirement for those dependents increases from under 19 to under 24 for full-time students.


There are no special CTC rules for college students. If a college student meets all of the requirements, s/he may claim the credit.


For the purposes of the EITC, qualifying children include children who are younger than the head of household (or spouse) that are under age 19 OR under age 24 and a full-time student.


Only students and those who claim students as tax dependents are eligible to claim educational tax credits. For the American Opportunity Tax Credit, students must be enrolled in a program pursuing a degree or another recognized credential, and must be enrolled at least half-time.

The credit may only be claimed for the first four years of post-secondary education. For the Lifetime Learning Credit, students do not need to be pursuing a degree or another recognized credential, and can be enrolled in one
or more classes. The credit may be claimed for all years of post-secondary education and for courses that are designed to help students acquire or improve job skills.

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Financial Aid


Pell Grants may be awarded to undergraduate students who have not yet earned a bachelor’s or professional degree, and some students enrolled in post-baccalaureate teacher certificate programs. Students may only receive Pell for a lifetime total of 12 semesters.

Health Insurance


Scholarships, awards, or fellowship grants used for education purposes and not for living expenses are not included in the income calculation.

Grants, scholarships, and fellowships that is not used to pay current tuition or other educational expense but will be at a future date is excluded from resources for 9 months after receipt. All financial assistance received by undergraduate/graduate students for educational purposes made under the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) or Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) student assistance programs is excluded from income and resources regardless of use.


Scholarships, awards, or fellowship grants used for education purposes and not for living expenses are not included in the income calculation. College students may choose to purchase a subsidized qualified health plan even if they have access to a student health plan.

Utility Assistance

Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP)
Countable income for LIEAP does not include educational assistance used for tuition, mandatory fees, materials and supplies related to the course of study, books, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses including, but not limited to, professional membership dues, journal subscriptions, meals for commuting students, and clothing. Educational assistance used for room and board expenses IS counted.

For more information about how to enroll into these above resources, email us at