Social Question

eadinad's avatar

What do you think about college students applying for/using food stamps?

Asked by eadinad (1278points) September 3rd, 2009

I’m considering applying for food stamps on the recommendation of a friend. I go to school full-time (18 credits) plus a student job (14 hours a week) plus an internship (6 hours a week). I make enough at my job to pay rent and utilities but I’m on the hook for groceries, school supplies, textbooks, gas, etc. My mom tries to help out but recently lost her job and well, I feel guilty taking money from her that I know she can’t really afford. I’m paying for my own school through loans.

But it also makes me feel guilty to use a program that I feel is for people in at least temporarily inescapably bad situations and I chose to go to college, young and able-bodied, no kids and so on.

What do you think? Is it ethical to ask for food stamps? Am I even eligible as a college student? Any other comments or ideas…

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26 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

College is a financially difficult time for most people. If you are following the rules and not misleading anyone, take full advantage of all the assistance you can. I do, and I really need it.

deni's avatar

Yes, you are eligible. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who get food stamps and don’t go to school full time and try their best to NOT need them, so since you are trying and you are a busy student, why not? At least apply for them and see what they say.

laureth's avatar

If more people used food stamps to help themselves through college, maybe they wouldn’t need them later because they’re out of a job.

This is a gross exaggeration; also, people lose jobs for reasons other than being poorly educated. However, I think my point is clear. And by finishing college, getting a decent job, and paying taxes, you will be paying your debt to society more than some people ever can.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Hey, at least you’re trying to better yourself and using the food stamps to help you get there (which is much more than you can say about a lot of the people on government assistance). Good for you… I have no issue with people like you using food stamps and I think you deserve them. Good luck in school.

scamp's avatar

My personal opinion on this is as long as you use them the way they are intended, and don’t abuse the program, it’s perfectly ok to get some help. apply for them, and see what they say about your eligibility. Being a college student will not put you out of the running to get them. They go by income/assets. Best of luck to you in your endeavors.

ShanEnri's avatar

I had to and I’m not a student! Most people need them so I see no problem with anyone that needs them to apply! Go for it! And I must agree with @scamp about the abuse!

Zuma's avatar

Frankly, if you are going to college and have to live on the subsistence-level grants they give out, I don’t care if you are strictly “eligible” for them or use them as “intended” or not. They are intended as a subsidy for American agriculture, they are a great stimulus to the economy, and are a far better idea than paying farmers not to grow crops.

casheroo's avatar

Being a student doesn’t have much to do with it. But, in most states their are requirements…such as you MUST work 15 hours a week, or be enrolled and attend college a certain amount of classes. So, the fact that you are in school will actually help you.

Judi's avatar

Sounds like a perfect example of a “hand up not a hand out.” you’ve got to eat. When you have graduated and are working full time you will pay it back in taxes. No shame, just grow up to make our country a better place. The future will be in your hands.

wundayatta's avatar

If you are eligible, then you are a person in the kind of situation that our Legislators meant to provide assistance for.

avvooooooo's avatar

Weird… I was told that because I was in school, I wasn’t eligible. Then again, the person I was talking to didn’t seem too bright…

alive's avatar

apply, if you get it them then you are obviously a worthy candidate. i see no ethical problem with this.

Likeradar's avatar

Go for it. These programs are in place to help people who need them. You’re working hard to better yourself and support yourself, and you’re worried about the ethical sides of it. You seem like the kind of person who should apply for assistance. Just make sure, as other people said, that you stop using them as soon as you’re able to and use them in the way they’re intended.

Supacase's avatar

I think you should absolutely get them. You are working to better yourself and be a significant contributor to society. Far from a deadbeat working the system.

galileogirl's avatar

As much as it seems fair there are really strict requirements. There is an emergency program but that is for a 3 month period but you can only use it once every 3 years. For regular food stamps for an able bodied adult, there is an income cap of about $900/mo. With your job and financial aid it might be difficult to prove that.. They also might make you work more hours because 14 hours barely qualifies for part time.

Jf food siamps were available for students in your position, it would be very common, but it isn’t. In order to qualify, I’m afraid you might have to commit fraud, which would be a federal offense. I know some people might take the chance because of millions of participants, your odds are pretty good. The problrm with that is your profile. The majority of food stamp recipients are receiving other govt benefits and have dependent children or are old and are crippled. When your case is reviewed you would stand out like a red flag and might trigger a closer examination. A charge of welfare fraud could ruin your professional life.

eadinad's avatar

@ galileogirl – well I’m certainly not considering committing fraud. If I am not eligible, I’m not, and that’s that.

casheroo's avatar

@eadinad They don’t do “investigations” when you apply, I apply for all benefits each time I renew..just in case we qualify, but I know we’d never qualify for cash assistance. And the 14 hours of work won’t hurt you if you are in school full time. They just want to be sure you are bettering yourself and trying to get off the food stamps. It’s worth a shot. You can usually apply online for your state.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

You have to eat, don’t you? Shouldn’t be a hard decision to make. Those neoconservative assholes who hate entitlements have never been hungry, so who cares what they think?

scamp's avatar

@galileogirl where are you getting your information?

scamp's avatar

@eadinad Here is some information posted by the USDA.

eadinad's avatar

@scamp, thank you, that’s helpful. Do you happen to know if loans count as income or not? They go directly to my school.

Judi's avatar

a loan is a LOAN and not income since you must pay it back.

scamp's avatar

They usually look at all resources you have. Even moneies that are inherited and non taxable count in their decision. They allow you to have up to a certain amount. If you are asking about your student loan monies, I think they might cost what you have left over after paying for tuition and materials against you. Parts of some grants are slotted to be used for food, etc. At least that’s how the Pell grant I used in college worked way back then.

Your best bet is to call the Hotline for your state and ask them about what would be counted against you. I’m sure things have changed since quite a bit over the years. I used food stamps in the early 90’s to feed my daughter when I was married to a disabled drunk.

ubersiren's avatar

I agree with @pdworkin and @laureth. The worst off I’ve ever been financially was when I was attending college. It’s a great stress to spread yourself as thin as you’re describing. Just don’t get your hopes up on actually getting the assistance. They may see an able bodied someone without dependents and not grant it. Even though you are working hard and trying to avoid having to use help later, it might not work in your favor. The welfare system could use some fine tuning.

scamp's avatar

@ubersiren When I was used the program for assistance, they looked more at assets than disability and or dependents. Later on, they started requiring people who were able bodied to look for work, similar to when you recieve unemployment benefits.

I did a little further digging and found out that “Retirement and education accounts are no longer considered countable resources”, so it looks promising for @eadinad , as long as the other requirements are met.

Not to blow my own horn, but when I was getting assistance, I attended a brainstorming meeting and was instrumental in getting the benefits on plastic, rather than paper stamps. I’ll see if I can find the article for you to read.

scamp's avatar

I found it here. The article starts out talking about my plight trying to get help with surgery I needed back then. I learned a lot about the system and how it works during that meeting, but it was a very long time ago, and I’m sure lots has changed since then.

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