The Michigan Department of Human Services received federal approval to remove college attendance as an exception for food assistance, a move that will cut bridge card benefits for many students in the next few months.
"Students are not eligible for food assistance programs except in very limited circumstances," Maura Corrigan, the Director of the Michigan Department of Human Services said.
DHS says those circumstance include a students participation in an on-the-job training program, being physically or mentally unable to work and having young children at home. As many as 20,000 students could have their benefits dropped with this announcement.
"We want to show Gov. Rick Snyder's and my commitment to having true integrity in our Food Assistance Programs in Michigan," Corrigan said.
This announcement comes a week after Rep. Joe Haveman introduced a bill targeting bridge card abuse. Haveman says this abuse was brought to his attention by his daughter when she was a freshman in college.
"She couldn't believe how many people she knew coming from the same middle class family as I am who had these bridge cards," Haveman said. "She even realized that it was not what was meant for bridge cards or for any welfare program."
DHS says being a college student in itself is not enough to qualify them for the Food Assistance Program a rule they will start enforcing in April. Haveman says their taking a step in the right direction and sending an important message to students.
"There is no free lunch," Haveman said. "They may have thought that they were getting free food but that money was coming from the tax payer."
Students can expect to receive notification in the mail if their benefit status changes.