Education & Childcare

Headline:

Effective immediately, DTA will no longer count a college student’s receipt of financial aid as countable income in determining SNAP or cash assistance benefits eligibility.

Last-reviewed: 9am, Sept. 22, 2022

Key Resources:

Education

The Basics

  • DESE and DPH have released an update on COVID-19 matters in K-12 schools as well as new isolation and quarantine guidance.
  • Parents and caregivers who receive SNAP and participate in a SNAP Path to Work program can get 12 months of free child care. Find more information here.
  • Programs providing in-person child care must follow COVID protocols.
  • For the 2022-2023 school year, MA will offer universal free school meals.
  • The CROWN Act prohibits MA school districts and school-related organizations from discriminating against people who wear natural and protective hairstyles.
  • Parents and guardians with COVID-19 questions can email the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) at COVID19K12ParentInfo@mass.gov.
  • DPH and DESE strongly encourage daycares, schools, and local communities to actively promote and administer approved COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6 months to 5 years.
  • The Biden administration is forgiving up to $10,000 in student loans (and up to $20,000 of federal student loan debt for Pell Grant recipients) who earn less than $125,000 a year. Biden also extended the federal student loan payment pause through December 31, 2022. More than 800,000 Massachusetts residents are eligible for student loan relief.
  • DTA no longer counts a college student’s receipt of financial aid as countable income in determining SNAP or cash assistance benefits eligibility.

The Breakdown

  • On August 24, 2022, President Biden announced a plan to forgive up to $20,000 of federal student loan debt for Pell Grant recipients, and up to $10,000 for other loan borrowers. To be eligible for loan forgiveness, borrowers must earn under $125,000 a year, or $250,000 a year for married couples who file taxes jointly. The administration also extended the student loan repayment pause one more time, through December 31, 2022. Borrowers can sign up at the Department of Education subscription page to be notified when the loan forgiveness application process officially opens. For more information, visit StudentAid.gov/debtrelief.
  • DESE and DPH released an update on COVID-19 matters in K-12 schools as well as new isolation and quarantine guidance. Contact tracing is no longer recommended or required, nor are universal mask requirements, surveillance testing, or test-to-stay testing in schools. Find the complete updated COVID-19 guidance here.
  • Parents who participate in a SNAP Path to Work program, DTA’s Employment and Training programs for SNAP households, can now get a child care voucher for eligible kids under age 13. The voucher lasts 12 months even if parents begin working during that time. Find out more here.
  • SNAP recipients are now categorically eligible for Head Start early childhood programs, without having to meet separate criteria. Read the FAQs here. Wearing a mask is still required in Head Start programs for people above the age of 2 years.
  • Effective immediately, DTA will no longer count a college student’s receipt of financial aid as countable income in determining SNAP or cash assistance benefits eligibility.
  • In a June 21, 2022 letter to schools, DPH and DESE strongly encourage daycares, schools, and local communities to actively promote and administer approved COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6 months to 5 years.
  • For information about masking policies in a specific school, check the District website.
  • MA requires Districts to provide transportation to K-6 students based on their distance from the school, as well as all K-12 students who attend regional school districts. Many students with disabilities are also entitled to specialized transportation.
  • If a K-12 student has difficulty getting to and from school, they can contact their District. If their District does not fix the issue, they can file a complaint with DESE online or by calling 781-338-3700.
  • Families can check their P-EBT Card balance and request a replacement P-EBT Card through the DTA portal. DTA is urging households to protect their food and cash assistance benefits from theft by calling EBT Customer Service (800-997-2555) and changing their EBT card PIN. 
  • All MA school children whose schools participate in the National School Lunch Program will get free school meals during the 2022-23 school year. Even though meals will be free for all such students, it is important for families to complete the household Application for Free and Reduced Price Meals for the 2022-23 school year so that districts can continue to establish eligibility for P-EBT benefits. Learn more here.
  • Students with Long COVID may qualify for additional services under IDEA or Section 504. See this ED Long COVID Guide for additional information.
  • A new law in MA prohibits workplace and school discrimination against people who wear hairstyles such as braids, twists, Bantu knots, and locks. MA is the 18th state to adopt a version of the hair discrimination bill commonly known as the Crown Act.

The Bottom Line

  • Parents or caregivers can contact their local school district for information about a child’s individual school operations.
  • Parents and caregivers who participate in a SNAP Path to Work program may receive free child care for any eligible child under age 13.
  • Children whose schools participate in the National School Lunch Program will have free school meals in the 2022-23 school year.