The income information that you are asked to provide on your FAFSA application might seem a bit overwhelming. At first glance, it seems as though they will consider every dime that comes into your possession as part of your income. If you are receiving food stamps and want to know if this government benefit affects your student financial aid, we can help you. We researched student loan requirements in depth so you'll know for sure if it will have an impact.
Food stamps, also known as SNAP benefits, will not impact your FAFSA application. The dollar amount you receive from food stamps will not be considered income.
Now that we know that food stamps will not affect financial aid, we'll take a look at other government benefits that you might have questions about. You might also be wondering if FAFSA funds can be used to buy food or if college students can get food stamps. For the answers to these questions and more, read ahead in this post and see what our research has uncovered.
Government Benefits And If They Affect FAFSA
Earlier in this post, we let you know that food stamp benefits will not affect your FAFSA application or payout in any way. But this isn't the only government benefit that you (or your parents) might be receiving.
While the following isn't an inclusive list of every government benefit out there, it will give you a good idea of whether or not some of the most common ones will be considered as income when you apply for a student loan.
If you—or your parents if you are a dependent student—are receiving unemployment funds, you are probably wondering if these need to be reported on your FAFSA application. As these funds are considered taxable income, they will need to be disclosed on the financial questionnaire.
Money paid out for unemployment benefits is considered taxable income in most cases. On a federal income tax return, these funds are considered part of a person or family's adjusted gross income, or AGI.
The AGI amount is the income amount that is used to determine financial aid eligibility as well as how much can be awarded to the student.
Unemployment benefits vary from state to state and can sometimes not amount to enough to make much of a difference when it comes to impacting FAFSA eligibility.
But keep in mind that if you are a dependent student, you need the household income disclosed. While one parent might have low earnings from unemployment income, the other might make enough money independently to pass the threshold for grant eligibility.
While combat pay is generally considered a nontaxable income, there can be circumstances that would make it relevant when it comes to FAFSA. If you (or a parent) received combat pay as an enlisted person or a warrant officer, your funds will not be taxable.
However, if this combat pay is paid to a person who is a commissioned officer, then a portion of the money is taxable and will play a factor in the income that is reported on your FAFSA.
Taxable combat pay in this situation is based on the difference between the pay that the highest enlisted person would make (including this enlisted person's hazard pay) and the amount of combat pay the commissioned officer received.
In short, the entire amount of combat pay an officer receives isn't taxable and is reported as income for FAFSA purposes.
Social Security Income
This form of income also needs to be reported on a person's tax forms. It is included in the taxpayer's AGI, therefore it will be considered a factor in determining FAFSA eligibility.
In the majority of cases, the AGI of a person receiving this benefit will not be high enough to eliminate them from financial aid eligibility, however.
As with social security income, persons who receive government disability will need to include this as part of their income on their federal income. It is included in the AGI of the taxpayer(s) and will weigh in on FAFSA eligibility.
Fortunately, if you are receiving this form of income, it will most likely not eliminate you from FAFSA funds. The maximum income from a disability is generally too low to disqualify a taxpayer from getting government aid for college.
Can College Students Get Food Stamps?
Prior to 2020, college students were only eligible to receive food stamps if certain conditions were met. To be frank, these conditions excluded the majority of those enrolled. Below are those exceptions:
- If the student is under 18 or over the age of 50
- Eligible for Disability
- If the student was enrolled through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
- Any student who worked a minimum of 20 hours per week
- Full-time students that are single parents with a dependent under the age of 12
- Enrolled part-time as a single parent with a dependent under the age of 6, or with a dependent between the ages of 6 and 12 if no childcare is available
Can FAFSA Be Used For Food?
Some college students will find that there is money left over from the various government grants and loans they received. The money is distributed to the school, where the cost of tuition and fees are taken out. Anything left over will usually be given to you in the form of a check or a direct deposit.
If the money is from FAFSA, the leftover funds you have in your hand are meant for living expenses. This could cover a variety of things, food being among them. Additionally, this would also mean rent, utilities, fuel for your car, and other daily living expenses should be paid for with these funds.
Does FAFSA Check Your Bank Account?
If you're filling out the FAFSA form now, you have probably already noticed that they want what might seem to be an overwhelming amount of information. On the form itself, you will not have to provide proof of any account balance, however.
In some cases, your application might be selected as one that needs to be verified. If this happens, you (or your parents) will need to provide documentation to further the application process. This can include copies of tax returns, investment account statements, and other financial documents.
While requesting checking and savings account statements are unusual, the school has the right to request any financial documentation it deems necessary. Odds are, no one will request to see what you have in the bank. But you should always be prepared to prove what you have, just in case.
Does FAFSA Go By My Parents' Income?
FAFSA will many times use the income of a college student's parents to determine eligibility. Most students who are about to enroll in college are still surviving on their parents' income, which will need to be disclosed in the appropriate parts of the FAFSA application.
There are some exceptions to this, of course. If you are deemed an "independent student," then you will not need any of their financial information at all. But what is an independent student?
To be considered an independent student, you will have to meet one of the following criteria:
- At least 24 years of age
- A graduate student or professional student
- A veteran or current member of the armed forces
- An orphan or ward of the court
- Someone with legal dependents other than a spouse
- Emancipated minors
- A student who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
The FAFSA process will take time, and it is important to answer all of the questions fully and honestly. Intentionally omitting pertinent information can lead to the application becoming rejected and could impact future applications.
If your application is flagged for verification, be sure to have all the documentation needed to verify what you have put in the application.
We hope this post answered all of your questions. For additional information, we suggest reading the following posts: