A number of public and private programs exist in the United States to provide financial assistance to people who are struggling to cover the cost of education, food or health care. Eligibility for one program will usually mean eligibility for multiple programs as the eligibility requirements for most programs are similar. You may find brief details about the programs below.
Food Assistance Programs
Food assistance programs are for individuals or families who find it difficult to cover the monthly cost of food, such individuals and families can apply for food stamps. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will enable them to avail food stamps which will take some financial burden off from the food costs.
The eligibility and allowance for SNAP will be determined by the size of the family and the income of applicants. Applications can be sent online, by mail or in person. Once the applications have been submitted, the applicant will be called for an interview or a call for a phone interview to confirm the details and complete the application process.
Once the application has been accepted, an EBT card will be issued, the card works like any debit card. The allowance or benefits will be transferred into the applicants account on a specific day each month and the funds can be withdrawn at any time using the card.
The second type of food assistance program is called the WIC program which stands for Women, infants and children. It is only applicable for expecting mothers, breastfeeding women, non breastfeeding post partum women, infants and children. In order to qualify for the WIC program the applicants must be at nutritional risk. This program provides access to nutritious food for infants, children, pregnant and breast feeding women as well as counseling. The benefits are disbursed in a similar manner to SNAP program, through an EBT card which can be used at grocery stores and farmers markets.
WIC program is a short term program and benefits flow from six to twelve months. In addition the program works on a preferential basis which means that applicants who are at the greatest risk are considered first.
Medicaid is a joint federal and state program which provides low income earning individuals and families access to a range of health care services that would not have been available to them otherwise. The services provided under Medicare may include hospital services, x-ray coverage, preventive care etc and the optional benefits under this program vary from one state to another.
Children health Insurance Program (CHIP) focuses specially on health care coverage to eligible children. CHIP programs cover screening (both early and periodic), mental health, dental health, diagnostic treatment services and vaccination programs for different age groups of children. Contact your nearest state agency to apply for Medicaid or CHIP program.
There is another federal health insurance program which provides health care coverage to the elderly and the disabled persons. Under this program the beneficiaries are provided hospital and medical insurance and prescription drug care. Applicants can apply for one program or tie their different programs in one bundle. Once they are enrolled for Medicaid, the applicants for federal health insurance program may receive inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility, hospice care, home health care etc.
Tricare program is a separate program that provides health care services to military servicemen, veterans and their families.
Housing Assistance Programs
Low income individuals can avail the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Applicants who meet the eligibility requirements can avail rental assistance for single family homes, apartments and assisted living facilities. Successful applicants are given out vouchers contribute towards a significant part of their rent and the applicants have to pay only the remainder.
There is another program for people struggling to pay their energy bills. Subject to eligibility requirements, the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides energy assistance and also funds households which need financial assistance for minor energy related repairs.
There are also programs which provide home loans to first time buyers and veterans. Borrowers who meet the requirements can obtain Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans or mortgage with very low down payments for applicants with high credit scores (high down payment for applicants with low credit scores)
Military servicemen, veterans and their surviving spouses can obtain home loans through the U.S department of Veteran affairs. The VA home loans can be used for purchasing, constructing or remodeling a home. Applicants with a high credit score can also receive a private Fannie Mae residential mortgage through an approved lender.
Education Assistance Programs
Students can receive financial aid to meet their tuition, fee, lodging, transportation and the cost of books. The Free Application for Student Aid (FASFA), has to be submitted online by the students and it should be done at the earliest as the cases are dealt on a first come first serve basis.
Once the application is completed, the schools will offer a package which may include financial aid for the school, grants for college and work-study loans. Students can also take out a private Sallie Mae loan to cover up the expenses. The packages will vary from one school to another so make sure to compare the offers. Members or veteran of the military may qualify for GI Bill benefits, which can help pay the fee for college, graduate school or training program. This must not be confused with federal student aid; this program provides financial assistance directly to the student and not the school.
Cash Assistance Programs
People who have been unemployed, without any fault on their part may qualify for unemployment benefits. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance provides compensation to unemployed workers who are actively seeking employment. Applications have to be made through the local UI agency as each state has its own requirements.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provides financial assistance to cover the costs of food, shelter and utilities. In order to be eligible, one must be either a pregnant woman or have dependent children living with them. There are some additional requirements for income and residence. The program provides temporary assistance and thus there may be extra requirements. People can also apply for Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance Program in addition to TANF.