Jump to: Overview, Eligibility, Student Eligibility , How to Apply, What to Expect After Applying,  Outside Help.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - What Is It?

SNAP, previously called food stamps, offers monetary assistance for the purchase of food. Individuals found eligible are issued a Montana Access Electronic Benefits (EBT) debit card that is reloaded monthly by the state for the purchase of food.

The average benefits are $361 per month for the average household of three in Montana with a set minimum of $23 per month. Benefits rollover each month, meaning unused balances from previous months can be utilized in future months. The amount of assistance received varies by household size and income. The benefits are geographically confined to the state and cannot be used to purchase food in other states. There are additional eligibility requirements for college students enrolled in SNAP -- see 'Student Specific Eligibility' below for more information.


SNAP eligibility is income-based. While meeting the household requirements below may dictate eligibility, the only way to determine eligibility definitively is to fill out the Montana SNAP Application.

Each member of a household applying for SNAP must:

  • Be U.S. citizens or legal aliens.
  • Furnish or apply for a social security number.
  • Meet the income and resource guidelines listed in this overview.
    • The individual maximum income level to qualify for SNAP is $30,120. To determine larger household's income maximum, use 200% of the Federal Poverty Level for the number of people in the household.
  • *Additional eligibility requirements/expansions may apply based on individual circumstances, including student-status, parenting status, work status, and more. See Student Specific Eligibility below. 

Some applications are expedited due to extenuating circumstances. Identified circumstances include:

  • Income < $150 and Savings/Cash is ≤ $100.
  • Income + Resources < Rent + Mortgage + Utilities
  • Destitute Migrant/seasonal worker with liquid resources < $100

Student Specific Eligibility 

The Office of Public Assistance and the DPHHS define college students as an individual enrolled part-time or more. At MSU, this means taking 6+ credits as an undergraduate student, or 5+ credits as a graduate student.

  • MSU part-time is between 6 and 12 credits for undergraduate students and between 5 and 9 credits for graduate students. MSU full-time is 12+ credits for undergraduate students and 9+ credits for graduate students.
  • Individuals enrolled under the part-time credit load must meet non-student eligibility requirements.

In addition to general eligibility requirements, college students must also meet one of the following:

  • Be under 18 or over 50 years of age.
  • Have a physical or mental disability.
  • Receive TANF.
  • Work an average of 20 hours per week for pay.
  • Full-time student that is also a single parent with a child under 12.
  • Care for a child under 6.
  • Care for a child 6-11 years old and lack enough available childcare.
  • Participate in work study during the school year (number of hours is irrelevant).


The Application Process

The SNAP application is available online or can be picked up at the Office of Public Assistance.

  • The application is the same as TANF and Medicaid assistance application with the Department of Public Health and Human Services.
  • The application process takes anywhere from 30-60 minutes to complete.
  • Student Specific Tip: "Household" refers to those who you live with, purchase food with, and prepare meals with. If you do not share food resources with a roommate, they do not count as a household member within the SNAP application. 

Materials to have on hand before starting the application:

  • Fiscal information about the household.
  • Monthly income and sources.
  • Household net worth.
  • Rent and utilities expenses per month.
  • Household employment history.

What to Expect After Applying

  • After applying, the Office of Public Assistance (OPA) will call you for a phone interview. Phone interviews are conducted to verify information given in your application.
  • If the OPA call goes unanswered, you must contact the OPA to reschedule the phone interview within 30 days of your original application. If the 30-day window closes and you did not make your phone interview, you must reapply.
    • Getting through to the OPA can be challenging. There has been success calling first thing in the morning to be first in the queue, although hold times can often last hours. 
    • If you prefer to conduct your SNAP interview in-person, you can also visit our local OPA at 12 N 3rd Ave., Bozeman, MT 59715, and request an in-person SNAP interview.
    • During the application process the OPA is the primary point of contact when applying for SNAP. After approval, The Department of Health and Human Services administers your benefits.
  • If approved, EBT cards are generally sent out within 30 days of approval.
  • Eligibility is determined yearly with a recertification process. 

Outside Resources

Additional SNAP Programs

There are programs within SNAP that add benefits, Double SNAP matches SNAP dollars up to $30 for use at participating farmers markets. This additional money is issued as tokens that can be used to purchase fruits, vegetables seeds, and plant starters.