Welfare Benefits for Students

Welfare programs in the United States are largely federally funded but administered by the states. Qualified welfare recipients may receive food stamps to help purchase food, Medicaid to cover medical expenses and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is monthly cash allowance to help with bills and necessities. To qualify for any of the welfare programs, a recipient must meet general requirements such as income limits, citizenship and cooperation with child support enforcement. Students who are enrolled more than half time in a higher learning program may also need to meet additional requirements to qualify.

Food Stamps

To receive food stamps, a student must fall into one of the following categories: be a TANF recipient; be physically or mentally unfit; be participating in a work-study program or on the job training program; be working at least 20 hours per week; be enrolled in a Title IV Job Opportunities and Basic Skills program; or have a dependent child.

Temporary Cash Assistance

All recipients of cash assistance must participate in a "work activity" unless they have a child under three months, are receiving SSI or Social Security disability benefits or are not work eligible according to the federal guidelines. In some cases, continuing education can meet the "work activity" requirement to receive cash assistance.


Medicaid eligibility is not generally affected by your status as a student. Medicaid eligibility is determined by income and need. As a rule, you must have dependent children or be pregnant to qualify for Medicaid. For those students who don't qualify for Medicaid, many states have enacted healthcare programs for low-income individuals and families, with monthly premiums based on the recipient's income.