EBT Resources

Using EBT

What is Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)?

Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) is an electronic system that allows a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participant to pay for food using SNAP benefits. When a participant shops at a SNAP authorized retail store, their SNAP EBT account is debited to reimburse the store for food that was purchased. EBT is in use in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. EBT has been the sole method of SNAP issuance in all states since June of 2004.

North Carolina Food and Nutrition Services (formerly Food Stamps) are available for all households with limited income and resources. A household may be one person living alone, a family, or several unrelated individuals cohabiting who buy and prepare meals together.

Electronic Benefit Transfer cards (EBT cards) is an electronic system that replaced paper food stamp coupons with a card. EBT cards can be used at any major grocery stores that authorized as is USDA retailer.


EBT for Students

Did you know that college students may qualify for EBT?

College students may be eligible for SNAP benefits under certain exceptions as long as you meet the regular SNAP eligibility requirements. Students (those enrolled 6 hours or more) who meet one of these exceptions may qualify: 

  • EFC of 0
  • Eligible for work study 
  • Work 20 hours a week in paid employment
  • Have a physical or mental disability 
  • Care for a child under the age of 6
  • Single parent with a child under 12
  • Are under age 18 or are 50 or older.
  • Have a physical or mental disability.
  • Work at least 20 hours a week in paid employment.
  • Participate in or be eligible for a state or federally financed work study program.
  • Participate in an on-the-job training program.
  • Care for a child under the age of 6.
  • Care for a child aged 6 to 11 and lack the necessary child care enabling you to attend school and work 20 hours a week or participate in work study.
  • Are a single parent enrolled full-time in college and taking care of a child under 12.
  • Receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) assistance.
  • Are enrolled in a TANF Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) program.
  • Are assigned to, placed in, or self-placed in a college or other institution of higher education through: 
  • A SNAP Employment and Training (SNAP E&T) program;
  • Certain other E&T programs for low-income households, which are operated by a state or local government and have an equivalent component to SNAP E&T;
  • A program under Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) (PL 113-128);
  • A Trade Adjustment Assistance Program under Section 236 of the Trade Act of 1974.


How to apply and more information: 

For more information and online application head to www.NCDHHS.com > Divisions > Child & Family Wellbeing > Food and Nutrition Services (Food Stamps).

The Key Center has an informational video and presentation linked in our bio on Instagram (unca_keycenter) where you can also find the application to download. Or you can find the information linked here

You can stop by the Food Equity Initiative to pick up an application. Find more information about Food Equity Initiative and their commitment to combating student hunger at their website.

Be sure to have filed your FAFSA, DHHS will contact financial aid for it!


Commonly Asked Questions

Can students apply as their own household even if they have roommates?

Yes, students typically prepare and buy all of their own food separately from their roommates. Therefore, even if you have roommates, you are still able to only claim yourself in your household.

If a student is not a NC resident on their ID can they still apply for EBT in NC?

Yes, as a student you reside in NC for school. You only need to prove that you live in NC. A lease agreement will work as your proof of residency.

Can students apply for EBT if they live in dorms?

Yes, a dorm is considered housing. On the application you would check ‘Home’ as your living situation and then use your housing agreement as your proof of residence.

Are scholarship payouts that go directly to your personal bank account considered income?

Yes. However, Pell Grant does not count towards income and if you use your scholarship to pay out for housing fees or rent then you may be able to deduct it from your income.

Am I guaranteed to receive benefits if I apply using this information?

If you meet any of the qualifications listed as well as the income threshold, you may qualify for benefits. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that you will receive benefits. Benefit applications are reviewed on a case by case basis. Reach out to the NC DHHS with questions. Asheville branch phone: (828) 250-5500.



Where you can use EBT:

  • Farmers Market 
    • Directions for EBT use at farmers markets (https://foodequity.unca.edu/get-help/farmers-market/):
      • Bring your EBT card to the Market Information booth at your participating farmers market
      • Swipe your EBT card for the amount of money you want to spend
      • Receive the amount of money in market tokens to use with eligible market vendors
      • Shop for fresh and healthy food while supporting your local farmers!
      • No cash back, but tokens do not expire
  • Walmart, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Aldis, Foreign Affairs, Earth Fare, Hopey Co, Publix, Target, Sam’s Club, Sav Mor, Lee’s Asian Market, Harris Teeter, Tienda Los Nenes 


Resources on Obtaining EBT



Assembled by the Key Center and their 2022-2023 Americorps HungerCorps VISTA, Erin Guy, we hope that this information will help students find necessary resources within the Asheville community. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to the Key Center by email @keycenter.unca