More college students eligible for SNAP benefits through Coronavirus relief

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WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 08: The exterior of the U.S. Capitol building is seen at sunrise on February 8, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – More college students throughout the country may be eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits thanks to federal assistance in response to the global pandemic.

“Food insecurity should never be a barrier to academic success,” said Stephanie Rodriguez, New Mexico’s Acting Higher Education Department Secretary. “It is our job to reflect the needs of students during this pandemic and beyond and action is vital to ensure that no student goes hungry.”

Officials say the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 temporarily expands SNAP eligibility to include students enrolled at least half-time in an institution of higher education.

Those students must meet certain requirements to qualify for the expanded benefits. Those include being eligible to participate in state or federally financed work study or have an expected family contribution of $0 in the current academic year.

“The pandemic has created many economic challenges particularly for college students and families with limited resources,” said New Mexico Cabinet Secretary of Health and Human Services David Scrase. “Jobs for college students are scarce. College students have either had their hours reduced or lost their job altogether, making it difficult to meet their basic needs.”

If students meet eligibility requirements, the benefits will remain in place until 30 days after the public health emergency ends, according to federal guidelines.

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