Michigan Cuts Food Stamps For College Students, Eliminating a ‘Come-Up’ for Many

August 8, 2011  |  

By Charlotte Young

Looks like for now, Michigan’s struggling college students can say “bye-bye” to collecting food stamps. After a review of the food stamp program, The Detroit News reports that the state has decided to remove about 30,000 college students, which saves about $75 million a year.

So what should those students do now? Maura Corrigan, the Human Services Director says that they should get a job, just like she did, when she attended Marygrove College in Detroit and the University Of Detroit Mercy School Of Law.

“We want to encourage people to be self-sufficient, not to be dependent on the government,” she told The Detroit News.

Critics say tuition has gone up and job opportunities have gone down since Corrigan last attended college in the late ’60s and early 70s.

While some students and critics cry over the difficulties in Michigan’s still struggling economy as well as the need to focus on education, others, such as former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, claim that students use the program as a scam.

The former mayor was on food stamps himself as a college student, even though his mother was a state representative and his father a top official in Wayne County.

Kilpatrick attended Florida A&M University in the late 80s and early 90s, and wrote in his autobiography, that “the food stamp game is an old hook-up in neighborhoods from Detroit to Tallahassee…if you could get them, especially as a struggling college student, then you did.”

If college students are using the food stamp program as a scam, they aren’t alone. Auborn, Michigan’s Leroy Fick was found to be eligible for food stamps and continued to use them, even after he won $2 million in the state lottery TV show “Make Me Rich!” in 2010. Not all students will be cut from the program. Single mothers who attend school and some students who work at least 20 hours a week will still be eligible.

While Federal rules generally don’t allow college students to participate in the food stamp program, Michigan had become a national leader in this area by creating its own rules. Its exception to the Federal rules included people enrolled in a valid employment and training program, such as college. The report states that Michigan has 10 times the number of students on food stamps than Illinois or California.

Corrigan plans to have administrators look at applicant assets, not just income. Existing food stamp recipients will be examined and re-evaluated ever six months.

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