Basic Food


Quick Facts

Administering Program Name
Washington State Department of Social and Health Services

Are College Students Eligible for SNAP?

First, What Are Student Exemptions?

COVID-19 Temporary Update

As of January 16, 2021, a student is exempt if they meet one of the qualifications:

1) They are eligible to participate in state or federally financed work study during the regular school year. You school determines if you are eligible for work study


2.) They have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of 0 in the current academic year (based on the FASFA- Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

Beyond COVID-19 eligibility, Basic Food is available for Students who: 

  • Are under age 18 or are age 49 or older.
  • Employed students and work at least 80 hours each month, or average 20 hours per week, it is not necessary that they work 20 hours each week.Applying for or receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits;
  • A student enrolled at least half time in any recognized school, including high school, training programs, or institutions of higher education, provided that the participation in these educational activities is not the result of participation in BFET;
  • Eligible for and subject to the work requirement of the Refugee Resettlement Program; or,
  • Subject to mandatory participation in the Tribal TANF Native Employment Works Program
  • Physically or mentally unfit for employment;
  • Participating in and complying with the Cash Assistance Jobs Program;
  • Caretaking for a child under the age of six;
  • Responsible for the care of an incapacitated individual;
  • Participating in a drug or alcohol treatment and rehabilitation program.

Washington state community and technical college students enrolled in certificate, degree and industry recognized programs who now qualify for Basic Food may also receive additional support from the Basic Food Employment Training program (BFET). BFET provides financial support for housing, school supplies, books and childcare.

Second, What Are Income Requirements?

This chart shows the gross monthly eligibility standard based on family size considering 130% of the Federal Poverty Line, or FPL. The FPL is set by the federal government each year is calculated centered on family size and income. FPL determines eligibility for many federal and state public programs.

Household Size Gross Monthly Income
(130% of FPL)
Net Monthly Income
(100% of FPL)
1 $1,396 $1,074
2 $1,888 $1,452
3 $2,379 $1,830
4 $2,871 $2,209
5 $3,363 $2,587
6 $3,855 $2,965
7 $4,347 $3,344
8 $4,839 $3,722
Each Additional Member + $492 + $379

How Do I Apply?

You don’t need to go to an office! You can apply online, and receive your EBT card in the mail. The quickest and easiest way to apply for Basic Food is online through Washington Connection at

Required Interview:

After you apply for Basic Food, you must call the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to complete a Basic Food interview. You can call DSHS at 877-501-2233 Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., except on state holidays. You must do this within 30 days of your application. DSHS will not call you. We recommend you call early in the morning. If you are eligible, you will be able to access your Basic Food benefits no later than 30 days from the date the office received your application. If you have very little or no income for the month and you need help right away, you may qualify for Basic Food benefits within 7 days.

Where/How to Use

Basic Food benefits can be used to buy food, plants and seeds for your household.

  • You can use your EBT card to purchase food at any grocery store, farmers’ market, or online website that accepts Basic Food like Safeway, Amazon, and Walmart.
  • Visit to learn more about shopping for groceries online with your Basic Food benefits and more.

This page was last updated on October 12, 2021.