In addition to grants, scholarships and loans, students also qualify to receive another form of government assistance through food stamps.
To qualify for food stamps, students need to be enrolled full time, work 20 hours a week and have an income statement for four weeks of income at a job off campus or work-study. A picture ID and a social security card are also required, in addition to a letter from parents stating how much they contribute to their student each month.
Melissa Burns, clerk typist specialist for the department of children and families access Florida, explained the process.
“The first step would be to apply online,” Burns said. “Then you will receive a letter in the mail from a caseworker. The letter is going to have a list of items that you need to complete for processing.”
Students with children don’t have to meet the 20-hour-work week requirement. But they do have to provide identification for their child[ren].
Julian Patrick, 21, said he found out about qualifying for food stamps from his parents. Patrick, a fourth-year business administration student from Belle Glade, said he recently became aware of students being able to qualify for food stamps.
“I found out [because] my aunt was receiving food stamps, while she was in college and my parents encourage me to apply,” Patrick said. “Receiving food stamps took a large hit out of my expenses.”
Other students said they understand the need for food stamps.
“There are students who have to pay rent, utilities and buy gas,” said Colinthia Walker, 26, a senior social work student from Tallahassee. “The stamps would help supply food so that income can go toward other necessities.”
However, Carl Jenkins, 51, a Tallahassee resident, doesn’t agree with young adults taking advantage of food stamp benefits.
“For children whose parents might need help providing nourishment for them it is a good idea,” Jenkins said. “For the elderly who aren’t able to meet their needs on there own it is a good idea, but young adults need to pursue work… they don’t need anything for free.”
Walker said she believes it can be helpful for students as long as it doesn’t become reliant upon food stamps.
“You should use the program as a crutch in your time of need and not become dependent on it as a permanent source of income,” Walker said. “I think the food stamp program is for those in need and not meant for someone to be on it for longer than necessary.”
Patrick disagrees with Jenkins and sees food stamps as harmless as receiving financial aid.
“There is no difference with food stamps and financial aid,” Patrick said. “The only thing is people won’t know that you are on financial aid or that you receive a Pell grant but if you are on food stamps you have to use them in public.”
For more information, students can visit http://dcf.state.fl.us/ess/foodstamps.shtml.