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Archive for June, 2024

College Surprise & Food Stamps

June 8th, 2024 at 03:35 pm

I just happened to notice (very randomly) that DL(18)'s tuition was due this month.  What!?  We paid in August last year but I guess that was a special freshman due date.

What a pain.  I paid the entire tuition for the school year, basically.  Will get a financial aid refund in November.   (Tempted to cross off the year as done and paid for, but will wait for financial aid to sort out.)

Feeling cash poor in the short run.  Was feeling very balanced and then suddenly feel out of balance.  I will have to ponder. 

I had been meaning to share a food stamp update but wanted to wait and see if MM(20) was truly eligible.  He's been dragging his feet but he finally got through the red tape.  

My conclusion is that the only reason he is eligible for the food stamps is because we are uber frugal.  But I will start at the beginning and then get to how it ended up.

In MM(20)'s college county, some majors are eligible for food stamps.  The main criteria is that you can't live with your parents, you must have a kitchen (he would have been ineligible freshman year) and you need to cook most of your meals.  MM(20) fit all these parameters.

They've been doing a big marketing push this year.  It would be hard not to know about this, at this point.  Was totally clueless last school year and then only found out mid-year this year.  

MM(20) had told me at some point that his girlfriend was getting "food financial aid."   So finding this out was a big lightbulb moment.  This explains why she refuses to accept any grocery money.  Obviously she knew about the food stamps.  This is also probably the only reason we perservered with the red tape.  Her parents clearly have a higher household income.  If not for knowing she was eligible for full benefits, it would have been easier to write off that clearly MM(20) would never be eligible for food stamps.

Now that he is approved and he has his benefit amount, I'd say the truth is somewhere in the middle.  They don't ask anything about assets, so that is not a factor.  MM(20) will become ineligible any month he makes something like more than $2,800 (more than full-time minimum wage).  They asked MM(20) for financial aid information, so they probably extrapolated our income/assets (at least a rough estimate) from that information.  

I am still a little confused why the girlfriend is receiving the full food stamp benefit of $300/month.  I don't know if it's because it's more 'all or nothing' if you have no parental support.  Or if she was just being paid room/board at her on campus job (considered to have $0 income?).

The final answer is that MM(20)'s benefit is being pro-rated based on the support we provide him.  It sounds like he will be getting $150/month food stamp benefits. This just happens to be the amount we were giving him for groceries.  We reported to the state that we were "gifting" him $1,400/month (half minimum wage) for tuition/room/board/support.  It sounds like if he is being gifted half minimum wage, then he gets half the food stamp benefit.

Of course, I will no longer be giving him food money (due to this benefit) and his rent is decreasing next year.  So technically he will be eligible for a little more.

I already mentioned in the past that MM(20) is in the extreme minority re: low grocery spending.  & MM(20)'s rent is also easily half of what it could be.  It quickly became clear that he is only getting this benefit because A - he is uber frugal, and B - we give him very little support outside of tuition/rent.  & C - he's also living off of his girlfriend's food stamps.  It sounds like it's fairly typical for parents (at this college) to give students $2,000/month for just rent and food.  That's not counting utilities, allowances for spending money, or any other financial support.  Oh yeah, and that does not even count tuition!  I was right to be skeptical about being eligible for food stamps.  We just squeaked by because our personal situation just happened to fit inside the box.

How random is that, that the government wants to give him the amount I was giving him for food allowance?  Technically, MM and his girlfriend are sharing $450/month.  Even with her fancy menus, it's more than they can figure out how to spend.

MM(20) already bought up groceries for this school year (before he got the benefits), so this won't change my budget until next school year.  But this will be a nice benefit for next school year.  Fingers crossed, however many months he can get this benefit.  (Ideally, for last 2 school years.)