ROBINSON: Are food stamps helpful for college students?

Ian Robinson is a junior mass communication major from West Monroe, Louisiana.

I believe that college students getting food stamps is a helpful thing. A lot of times, college students are on a strict budget, trying to balance the allowance they get from parents or the money that they get from work study or off-campus jobs. 

That was my case a couple of semesters ago. 

My sophomore year going into my junior year, I received food stamps, which was a tremendous help. 

I worked only weekends at the Taco Bell in my hometown of West Monroe, Louisiana. I worked 20 hours every week and received a paycheck every two weeks. 

On top of paying for gas, personal care items and groceries, I had to pay over $200 in car insurance at the end of month. By me covering all my expenses, that left me with little to nothing. 

At the time that I was staying on campus, McCall Dining Hall was not open 24 hours. 

So when I would be up studying or completing assignments in my room, I would’ve eaten up all of my snacks, and the Tiger Express would be closed. 

My sister suggested to me that I apply for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits in order to receive food stamps, as she did while she was a student at Grambling State. 

She said eligibility was based on your income. I was a college student who worked 20 hours a week, so I was eligible.  

I applied by filling out and mailing a paper application, and I was scheduled an over-the-phone appointment with a case worker. I also had to send in my last three check stubs, which showed that I worked 20 hours every week.

I received $166 on the seventh day of every month on a blue electronic card. I stocked mine and my twin brother dorms every month and sometimes still have enough left over to help out my mother and grandparents. 

I was able to manage my money without stressing over how I would pay my car insurance and phone bill, and how I would be able to pay for my groceries or for my personal items, like soap and toothpaste. 

Stressing behind finances can result in unnecessary added pressure to a college student whose main focus should be on their schoolwork. 

There are probably a ton of college students who are likely eligible for food stamps but are not receiving them. But I would strongly encourage those students, many of whom were in the same boat as I was, to apply for food stamps.  

I strongly encourage them to take advantage of those resources. Even if they don’t receive as much as I did, whatever amount could help tide them over until the following month.