Michigan low-income college students can apply for food assistance

LANSING — Michigan students in college career and technical education programs are reminded they are now eligible to receive food assistance if they meet other eligibility requirements.

The Michigan Departments of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) and Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are encouraging students to apply for food assistance benefits online at Michigan.gov/MIBridges.

LEO and MDHHS developed this new initiative in 2020 to address rising food insecurity among students that has been made worse by COVID-19.

Close to 16,000 low-income college students in Michigan who are enrolled in career and technical education (CTE) programs are eligible to receive food assistance benefits through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“As many CTE students are back on their campuses, what better time to encourage them to take advantage of critical resources that will support their lives as they prepare for high-demand, critical job openings,” said LEO Acting Director Susan Corbin. “These SNAP benefits will help them focus on their educational needs and prepare for a successful future.”

Previously, college students enrolled in qualifying CTE programs who attended school at least half-time could not qualify for SNAP benefits, even if they met income eligibility requirements, unless they fell into certain categories such as working at least 20 hours per week, caring for a child, or being unable to work.

The Perkins Postsecondary Career and Technical Education Program provides funding to 28 community colleges, three public universities and one tribal college to support pathways to high-wage, high-skilled, and in-demand careers that require less than a bachelor’s degree.

Those institutions offer more than 3,600 qualifying programs, offering a certificate or associate degree to careers in fields such as information technology, health care, hospitality and manufacturing. There are nearly 90,000 students enrolled in these programs in Michigan. Some of those students may already be receiving food assistance benefits, while others will become eligible for this new opportunity.

For anyone currently enrolled in a Perkins program with an existing food assistance case who has experienced a loss of income, their MDHHS caseworker will determine Perkins program status to ensure the benefits are correct.

Any Perkins student who wants to apply for food assistance should provide documentation from their school that outlines their major and program or course of study to assist in determining their eligibility for SNAP. Examples could include a proof of registration and a document showing their major, program, or course of study. A caseworker will use that information to determine eligibility.

Students interested in applying for food assistance can go to Michigan.gov/ MIBridges. Verification of enrollment in a Perkins program must be provided by the student or may be requested from the postsecondary institution.

Learn more about the Perkins Postsecondary CTE Program at Michigan.gov/ LEO-Perkins.