More than one-third of college students report food insecurity. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program offers a way to deliver nutritional assistance to individuals. Many low-income students are not eligible for SNAP benefits because students must meet additional eligibility requirements that do not apply to other low-income applicants. In addition, fewer than half of eligible students participate, with the complexity of eligibility rules and application processes contributing to low rates of participation. Expanding access to and eligibility for SNAP benefits may increase student capacity for persisting in postsecondary education. Colorado state agencies and postsecondary institutions are making significant investments in SNAP outreach and support efforts and need more evidence on current SNAP participation, levers for expanding participation, and academic outcomes to guide that work.
With the support of the Institute of Education Sciences, the research team will conduct descriptive analyses of SNAP eligibility and participation and examine differences for the lowest income students and underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. To examine the relationship between SNAP and academic outcomes, the researchers will use a propensity score weighting approach to compare SNAP-participating students to similar SNAP-eligible students who did not participate. To examine the impacts of federal changes to SNAP eligibility requirements during COVID, they will use a difference-in-differences approach to compare individuals who became SNAP-eligible because of the federal expansion to individuals eligible regardless of the expansion. To examine the effects of college basic needs services on SNAP participation and academic outcomes, they will use a difference-in-differences approach to compare outcomes for students at institutions with and without basic needs centers. To simulate how SNAP participation could increase as the result of future policy changes, they will construct models based on historical data. To describe implementation, they will survey basic needs services staff at all public Colorado institutions and follow up with interviews of administrators at institutions with high rates of SNAP take-up.
For more details, see the IES project page.
Colorado Department of Higher Education
Colorado Department of Human Services (SNAP)
University of Denver, Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab
Linked Information Network of Colorado