Supplement your monthly grocery budget and get more money for food with SNAP benefits.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest federal program that helps eligible people afford food.
You can use SNAP benefits when buying food at some grocery stores, online retailers, and farmers’ markets each month.
The best part: you don’t need to pay SNAP benefits back.
If you’re eligible for SNAP benefits, you’ll receive an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. This looks like a normal credit or debit card.
Your EBT card will automatically have your SNAP benefit money loaded onto it every month.
You’ll need to choose a code or PIN that you’ll enter when you check out at the grocery store.
As a student, you may be eligible for SNAP benefits if you meet all the following criteria.
- Live in East Lake Apartments or off campus (i.e., not in a residence hall)
- Not have a campus meal plan or have a campus meal plan that provides less than half your meals
- Earn less than $2,265 per month
- This amount may be higher if you have additional members in your household, so check the income limit for your household size
- Be a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident
- Some non-citizens like refugees and asylees may be eligible for SNAP. Email the SNAP Outreach Team at SNAPrefer@2harvest.org for more info about non-citizen SNAP eligibility.
You must also meet at least one of the following criteria:
- You’re eligible to participate in a federal or state work-study program
- You have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0 based on your FAFSA for the current academic year
- You work 20 or more hours per week
- You’re physically or mentally unable to work
- You’re caring for a child under age 6, or a child between ages 6–11, and childcare is unavailable
- You’re a single parent with a child under age 12
- You’re under age 18 or over age 50
Everyone who applies and is eligible for SNAP benefits will receive them. Using SNAP doesn’t take away benefits from others.
This means that federal funding for SNAP increases as more people are enrolled.
If you qualify for SNAP benefits, the amount of financial assistance you can expect varies based on your income, expenses, and household size.
For a one-person household, for example, the monthly SNAP benefit is up to $280.
Apply for, Receive & Maintain SNAP Benefits
Learn more about the application process, how long it will take, and what documents you’ll need to provide.
Complete an online application at mnbenefits.mn.gov in 20 minutes or less.
You’ll be asked to provide info about yourself, including estimates of your income and expenses as well as the names of any people who live with you. You won’t be required to create a username or password.
You can provide supporting documentation like pay stubs and documentation of your housing expenses when you apply. Or you can provide these supporting documents later within 30 days of when you submitted your application.
You can provide your best guess for your income, hours worked per week, and other specifics like the amount of money you have in savings and checking accounts. Specific amounts can be provided later when you submit your supporting documentation.
If you provide your email address, you’ll receive two emails once you submit your application: one will contain a copy of your application; the other will contain info about your next steps.
Within 30 days of submitting your application, you’ll need to provide financial aid information to your county, including your financial aid award and cost of attendance. Note that financial aid doesn’t count as income.
The simplest way to provide documentation of your financial aid is to request that the Financial Aid Office complete the Financial Aid Information Form (PDF) and submit it to your county.
Schedule an appointment with Winona State’s Financial Aid Office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 507.457.5090, or visiting 222 Maxwell Hall.
You’ll also need to submit the following types of documents to your county:
- Identification (e.g., driver’s license, state ID, passport)
- Social security numbers (SSN) of the people in your household, or only your own SSN if you buy food and cook by yourself
- Proof of income from the last 30 days (e.g., pay stubs or federal income tax records if you’re self-employed) and documentation of any other money coming into your household (e.g., unemployment, pension). The county will verify Social Security income.
- Housing costs (e.g., lease, rent/house payment receipt, mortgage)
Additional documentation may be required depending on your situation. Find your county (PDF) to see how they prefer to receive documents.
If you don’t upload all required documents within 30 days of submitting your application, the county will close your case and you’ll need to start your application over by submitting a new application.
Within 30 days of submitting your application, you’ll be interviewed by a financial worker from your county over the phone.
You can expect to get a letter in the mail from your county 7–10 days after submitting your application. This letter will list a date and time span in which a county financial worker will call you to complete a phone interview.
When the county calls you, it may look like you’re getting a call from an unknown number. We recommend you answer any call that comes to your phone during the specified interview date and time.
If you haven’t received a letter from your county within 2 weeks of submitting your application, or if you need to reschedule your phone interview, call your county directly.
You can ask to complete your phone interview with the person you reach when you call.
You’ll receive a letter in the mail from your county within 30 days of submitting your application. This letter will let you know if you’ve been approved or denied SNAP benefits.
You’ll receive your SNAP EBT card in the mail 5–7 days after you’re approved for SNAP benefits.
This card will come in a plain envelope and may easily be overlooked. Be on the lookout for your card if you’ve recently been approved for SNAP benefits.
As a SNAP recipient, you’re required to report major changes in income, housing expenses, home address, household size, and more at least every 6 months.
You’re also required to recertify your eligibility for SNAP benefits every 12 months.
Your county will let you know what changes need to be reported, how to report them, and how to complete the recertification process.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
To learn more about SNAP, check out the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ Frequently Asked Questions page.
You can use your SNAP EBT card to buy groceries at local grocery stores, with Instacart, and online at Aldi, Amazon, Bluff Country Co-op, Hy-Vee, Midtown Foods, Walmart, and some farmers’ markets.
You can’t use your EBT card to buy non-food items, such as:
- Paper products
- Household and personal hygiene supplies
- Alcoholic beverages
- Tobacco products
- Pet foods
- Foods eaten in the store
- Hot ready-to-eat “deli” food
If you buy groceries and cook your own food, you’re considered a household of one.
If you share expenses and cook together with others, then these people are included in your total household size.
If the address where you currently live is different from your permanent address, you should list the address where you currently live on your SNAP application.
If you move within Minnesota, you’ll need to provide your new address to your county by submitting a change report form.
If you’ve changed counties, the management of your SNAP benefits will be transferred to the new county you’re living in.
If you move out of Minnesota (e.g., over the summer), you’ll need to reapply for SNAP in the state you move to and/or reapply for SNAP benefits when you return to Minnesota.
If you currently live outside of Minnesota, contact your local SNAP office to apply.
No, SNAP benefits won’t affect your taxes or impact the amount of financial aid you’re eligible to receive.
Your SNAP benefits will last as long as you do the following:
- continue to meet the eligibility criteria
- maintain your SNAP certification status by reporting required changes and completing the recertification process
Your county will tell you what changes need to be reported, how to report them, and how to complete the recertification process.
Reduced prices and discounts (PDF) for many services and cultural venues are available to people who receive SNAP benefits.
Discounts are currently available for services and entertainment venues including:
- Amazon Prime
- Guthrie Theater
- Metro Transit
- Minnesota Children’s Museum
- Minnesota Zoo
- Walker Art Center
Have your online application confirmation number ready. You can ask to complete your phone interview with the person you reach when you call.
If you’re not sure which county you live in, look up your county using your zip code.
When you call your county, be ready to select a response when prompted. You may be asked:
- what language you speak
- if you know your case number
- if you’re a single adult or a parent
- if you want to speak with a human services representative
Wait times can vary, so choose a time to call the county when you can wait for up to one hour.
If you received a letter from your county stating that you don’t qualify for SNAP benefits and you think this is a mistake, call your county and ask them to review your case.
If the county reviews your case and maintains their decision, but you still think you meet the eligibility criteria, you have the right to request that the Minnesota Department of Human Services review the county’s decision (i.e., file an appeal).
You’ll need to file an appeal within 90 days of getting written notice of the county’s decision.