By Mike Kruzman /

A new initiative is helping 90,000 low-income college students become eligible for food assistance benefits.

A partnership between the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity will make it so less students have to choose between putting food on their table and continuing their education. Until now, college students enrolled at least half-time in Career and Technical Education programs could not qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program even if they met income eligibility requirements unless they fell into certain categories like working 20 hours per week, are unable to work, or are caring for a child. Due to the pandemic, many students have lost their jobs and as a result, lost their SNAP eligibility due to no fault of their own.

Under the new initiative, CTE students will be eligible for SNAP if they meet income and other program requirements and are enrolled at least half-time in an occupational program that leads to employment under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the Twenty-First Century Act of 2018. Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Jeff Donofrio said, in a release, that “supporting CTE students, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic not only helps them upskill for in-demand jobs, it also helps Michigan employers fill critical job openings that support our economic future.”

To qualify, students must meet all requirements of the Food Assistance Program, which Michigan administers to distribute federal SNAP benefits. Students will work with a caseworker to determine eligibility, and may need to provide documentation from their school that outlines their major, program, or course of study.

Those interested in applying for food assistance can visit