More students can receive insurance coverage through special enrollment period

February 19, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State students and their families can now sign up for health insurance coverage through, the federal health insurance marketplace, or, Pennsylvania’s state-level health exchange, during a special enrollment period. Changes also have been made to the eligibility of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for students.

Enrollment in the public health insurance marketplaces typically begins in the fall each year, but due to the national COVID-19 emergency, a special enrollment period on both the federal and state-level exchanges has been opened through May 15. 

In addition to the federal and state insurance marketplaces, other coverage options include the Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan or Medicaid.

In efforts to address food insecurity for college students, SNAP has made changes to its eligibility. Now under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, students are eligible for SNAP if:

  • They qualify for a work study program, regardless of whether they are actually participating.
  • If they have an expected family contribution of $0 on their federal student aid determination. 
  • Students under 22 who live at home with parents will receive a benefit commensurate to their household size.

The temporary changes in SNAP eligibility will extend through the end of the COVID-19 health emergency, which is expected to last at least through April 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For now, these families will receive a benefit more commensurate to their household size, which they otherwise would not receive since their household contained a student. For students under age 22 and living at home, their family’s income is still taken into consideration when calculating eligibility. 

Pennsylvania resident students can apply on their own via the COMPASS website. Nonresident students can find online SNAP applications by searching “SNAP benefits” on their state’s website. 

The Student Insurance Advocate can assist students from all campuses who are interested, need help navigating coverage options, and/or need help with applying. Students can contact the Student Insurance Advocate by emailing or calling 814-865-7467. The advocate is also available to schedule a video/Zoom appointment. 

More information on these resources can be found below:

Last Updated February 19, 2021