How student aid is counted

Pell Grants (also known as Basic Education Opportunity Grants), federal and state college work study, and any other student financial aid from programs funded under Title IV of the federal Higher Education Act, the Bureau of Indian Affairs student assistance programs, or Title XIII of the Indian Higher Education Programs, are exempt income under the SNAP program. Receipt of such student aid will not reduce one’s CalFresh allotment. [7 CFR §§ 273.9(c)(3) and 273.9(c)(10); MPP § 63-502.2(q)(1)(A) and MPP § 63-507(a)(6); ACL 06-31 at 2; ACIN I-69-06; ACL 20-08, CalFresh Student Eligibility Handbook at p.6; see also 20 U.S.C. § 1087uu.]

“Excluded” financial aid includes Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), National Direct Student Loans (NDSL) (also known as Perkins Loans), Guaranteed Student Loans (GSL) (the same loan program that is the source of PLUS loans and Supplemental Loans for Students), the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program, Special Programs for Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds (the source of TRIO loans), Special Programs for Students Whose Families are Engaged in Migrant and Seasonal Farm Work, Grants to States for State Student Incentives and the Income Contingent on Direct Loan Demonstration Project. [See 7 C.F.R. §§ 273.9(c)(3) and 273.9(c)(10); MPP § 63-507(a)(6).]

“Other educational assistance” — such as deferred payment loans, private grants, or private scholarships — is excluded only to the extent that it is earmarked by the lender, used for, or intended to be used for, “allowable educational expenses.” [7 CFR § 273.9(c)(3); MPP § 63-502.2(e); ACL 20-08, CalFresh Student Eligibility Handbook at p.6; ACIN I-01-24 at p.2.]

Under this category of “other educational assistance,” “allowable educational expenses” include: tuition and mandatory fees (including the purchase or rental of any equipment, materials, and supplies related to course of study), books, supplies, transportation, dependent care, and “miscellaneous personal expenses.” [7 CFR § 273.9(c)(3)(ii)(B) and 273.9(c)(9) MPP § 63-502.2(e)(2).] The definition of educational expenses, however, does not include everyday living expenses, such as rent or mortgage, personal clothing, or food eaten at home. [7 CFR § 273.9(c)(3)(ii)(B); MPP § 63-502.2(e)(2).]

Students must verify and document their allowable educational expenses. [MPP § 63-502.2(e)(4).] They should make sure that their CalFresh benefits are not being incorrectly reduced because the county has not taken into account that the financial aid was used for, or intended to be used for, educational expenses.