LANSING (AP) - Michigan has removed about 30,000 college students from its food assistance program since it began enforcing federal guidelines this spring.
That's about twice as many as officials expected and the removals should to bring about $75 million a year in savings, Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura Corrigan told The Detroit News for a story published Monday.
"We want to encourage people to be self-sufficient, not to be dependent on the government," she said.
The removals are part of an effort to change the culture of the state's welfare department and slash tens of millions of dollars of waste, fraud and abuse, Corrigan said.
The state announced earlier this year that beginning in April students must show "true need" to reap benefits from the program. Michigan previously had created its own rules that made nearly all students eligible for aid, commonly known as food stamps, officials said.
Monthly food assistance in Michigan is based on income, how many people are in their household and other criteria. Funds are made available on a Michigan Bridge Card, which like a debit card is swiped through electronic reader when buying groceries.
Kayla Neff, a 19-year-old Spanish and computer science student at Central Michigan University who qualified for food assistance in September, said she and her father share about $150 a month in grocery money from the program. Her eligibility, however, is now under review.
"Students should be focusing on their education, not whether or not they'll be able to eat dinner or whether they can manage to find a job and balance it on top of their studies," Neff told the newspaper in an email interview from Mount Pleasant.
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