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Along with the $600 stimulus payment that was approved in December, Congress also made some welcome changes to Pell grants and SNAP, and allocated money to offer assistance to help low-income people get internet service. The new benefits should be available in September. Here’s what we know so far —

SNAP 

  • A 15% increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit amount for all recipients.  
  • Expansion of eligiblity to students who are eligible to participate in a federal or state work-study program. You don’t have to actually be working in a work-study program to receive SNAP benefits.
  • Students with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0 based on their FAFSA for the academic year will be eligible for SNAP.

Financial Aid Improvements 

  • Students from families who earn up to 175 percent of the federal poverty line, or up to 225 percent for single parents, will automatically qualify for a maximum grant. What this means: If you are a single parent with a household of 4, you can earn up to $59,000 and still get the full PELL grant of $6,345.
  • Those who make up to 275 percent of the poverty line, or 325 percent for single parents, are guaranteed at least the minimum award.
  • The concept known as an expected family contribution will be replaced with a student aid index. This index can be negative, but cannot go below -$1,500. Restoration of the Second Chance Pell Grant for individuals pursuing postsecondary education while or after being incarcerated. If you know someone who has been incarcerated and who wants to go to college, tell them to reach out to us.  
  • The ban on people getting PELL for prior drug convictions has been removed. 
  • The selective service requirement has been eliminated. 

Internet

  • Low income families can get up to $50 a month for their internet bill. Eligible households include households having individuals or children that qualify for free and reduced lunch program, Pell grant recipients, recently laid off or furloughed workers, individuals who qualify for the Lifeline program, and  individuals who qualify for an existing discount program offered by internet service providers. Payments will go directly to your internet service provider. Directions for how to apply are not yet available, but we will let you know as soon the process is open.