Utilizing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as College Enrollment Support for Low-Income Individuals

Debra Greenwood, Fordham University


U.S. workers lack the education to compete in the job market nationally and on a global scale. A college education has multiple benefits for the graduate and their children; however, there are multiple barriers to accessing higher education for low-income adults, including increased tuition and cuts to financial aid. Social welfare programs could be a source of financial support for low-income adults to enroll in college; the SNAP program is one of the largest social welfare programs in the U.S. While there are no national data, receipt of SNAP has been broadly linked to college attendance since the 1970s; use of SNAP by college students has increased recently in light of the recession of 2009. Having a college degree actually decreases the odds that an adult will access SNAP. This was a secondary data analysis of the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participants (SIPP) 2008 panel to examine college attendance of low-income SNAP and non-SNAP recipients. The SIPP was chosen for this study partly because it is the only database that collects both SNAP recipiency and college enrollment data, and the 2008 panel was during a major recession. A multiple logistic regression model was conducted, regressing the dependent variable of college enrollment on the independent and control variables. A fourth step was added to the model, entering the interaction terms for the modifying variables with the independent variable. Receipt of SNAP was negatively correlated with college enrollment through all models. When controlling for all other variables, receipt of SNAP benefits in the final model significantly decreased the odds of college enrollment—by 40.8 percent—as compared to non-recipients. There currently are no studies that specifically examine the link between receipt of SNAP and college enrollment. Despite the findings of this study, using the SIPP in a longitudinal study, as opposed to the cross-sectional analysis presented, could provide important information about the use of this specific social welfare program by college enrollees.

Subject Area

Adult education|Public policy|Social work|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Greenwood, Debra, "Utilizing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as College Enrollment Support for Low-Income Individuals" (2019). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI27544762.