(WHTM) – More Pennsylvania college students may now be eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

The expanded benefits will allow those who meet SNAP eligibility requirements to qualify despite previous rules that may have limited their participation due to their status as a student.

To qualify for the expanded benefits announced on Tuesday, students must be enrolled in a qualifying employment and training program.

Generally, college students enrolled at least half time are ineligible for SNAP unless they qualify for existing exemptions from a work requirement. Existing exemptions are based on factors such as college enrollment status, income, caregiver status, age, disability, and more. Under this new flexibility, a student enrolled in certain programs meets the new exemption if that program:

  1. – Primarily serves students from households with low-incomes;  
  2. – Is operated by a state or local government, or an instrumentality thereof; and,  
  3. – Provides the equivalent of at least one allowable activity under SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) criteria.  
Department of Human Services

To be approved for SNAP benefits as a college student, you can not be enrolled in a meal plan or a plan that provides more than 10 meals per week over the course of a semester. You must also meet normal SNAP eligibility requirements such as income limits.

Applications for public assistance programs such as SNAP can be submitted online at dhs.pa.gov/COMPASS or by calling the Consumer Service Center at 1-866-550-4355

“We know that college students are juggling a lot of expenses while investing in their futures. Worrying about how to meet one of their most basic needs should not be one of them,” said DHS Secretary Val Arkoosh. “I am proud that the Shapiro Administration has added this new eligibility option to SNAP so that college students who are focusing on their employability after graduation can get help meeting their basic needs right now. I encourage higher education institutions across the Commonwealth to review the criteria for this new flexibility and apply for program certification as soon as possible so we can help students who may be struggling with schooling and personal costs.”

Colleges can also request for an employment and training program to be reviewed and approved by completing the SNAP College Program Checklist.