Skip to Content

Summer EBT: Everything You Need to Know

Summer EBT: Everything You Need to Know

Summer EBT is a new supplemental food assistance program that will start in Summer 2024. This program will provide $40 per month, up to $120 total, per student during the summer months to help supplement the family’s food budget when free and reduced-price student meals aren’t available.

In this article, we’ll review what the Summer EBT program is, who qualifies and what you need to do to get those benefits. We’ll also review some of the questions we’ve received about this exciting new program.

Summer EBT Basics

This new program is designed to replace the pandemic-era P-EBT program that helped ensure low income children across America had access to healthy, nutritious food. This replacement program will begin in Summer 2024.

Who’s Eligible?

Your children might be able to get Summer EBT if they fit into one of these groups:

  • They receive free or reduced-price school meals during the school year; OR
  • Their school offers a program where all students get free meals, regardless of income; OR
  • Your family income falls within the income guidelines for the free or reduced price school meal program (even if your child isn’t currently getting those school meals)

The USDA has stated that children who are enrolled in private or homeschool may also be eligible for Summer EBT if they are participate in other means-tested programs like SNAP, TANF, FDPIR, or certain Medicaid programs. If that describes your child, you will need to fill out a program application.

Of course, you also have to live in a state or area that has authorized this program. The federal USDA made it an option for states, so each state can decide whether or not to participate. Some states have chosen not to participate.

For Summer 2024, the Summer EBT benefits will be available to eligible families who live in one of these states, territories or tribal nations:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Summer EBT is also available in US territories like American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Washington DC. It’s also available to members of tribal nations that chose to participate, including the Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, and Osage Nation.

How Much?

Families who receive Summer EBT benefits will receive $120 per child. The amount is calculated at a rate of $40 per month per child, but the USDA has said that schools cannot prorate that for partial months and must provide the full three-month rate for all eligible children.

That means that families with three eligible children could receive an extra $360 in the summer! This is a tremendous help for low income families who qualify!

States will have the ability to decide whether to send out new cards for this program or simply to add this money to the EBT card you already use for SNAP or WIC. If the state chooses to send out a separate Summer EBT card, they can choose whether to send one card per child or one card to cover the entire family.

How to Apply

The easiest way to make sure that your child will receive Summer EBT benefits is to apply for free or reduced price school meals through the National School Lunch Program. If your child qualifies for and receives those benefits, you will most likely be automatically enrolled.

If your child attends a school that gives free or reduced price school meals to everyone, you may still have the option to fill out a form or demonstrate categorical eligibility. Categorical eligibility is the term used when your participation in one program, like SNAP, automatically proves that you are eligible for another program like NSLP.

If applying for free or reduced price school meals isn’t possible for whatever reason, then you may be able to submit a Summer EBT application. States have been instructed by the USDA to make these applications available for students who can’t or haven’t filled out the NSLP application.

You may be able to fill out a program application if your child meets certain requirements. For example, you may choose to use the application method if:

  • You do not want free school meals but you do want Summer EBT benefits; OR
  • You did not meet the deadline to apply for the NSLP program this year; OR
  • Your financial situation changes and you become eligible over the summer.

The USDA has stated that every household must have the chance to apply for Summer EBT at any point between the start of the school year and the end of the summer operating period. It’s best to as early as possible so your benefits are not delayed.

When Will We Get Summer EBT?

Each state will set their own distribution schedule for Summer EBT benefits. Based on the procedures that were established for the P-EBT program, it is likely that these benefits will be sent toward the end of the summer in most areas. We will update this post when we have more information.

Other Things to Know

There are a few other things you need to know about the Summer EBT program. This information as gleaned from studying the USDA’s information about this program.

  • Earlier Expungement Date: Summer benefits will only remain on your card for four months. They will be removed 122 days after they are issued, no matter how often you are using your card.
  • Limited Replacement Terms: If you buy food that is destroyed in a disaster, you may be able to get your Summer EBT benefits replaced. However, you cannot get the replaced if they are stolen through skimming, card cloning, or other EBT scams.
  • Income Limit Changes: The income limits for the Summer program are updated every year on July 1st. Any applications that are submitted after July 1 must be evaluated with the new income guidelines, which means that more or less people may be eligible depending on how those guidelines are adjusted.

Summer EBT Tips

Because there are some key differences between Summer EBT and regular EBT, there are some important things you need to remember to make the most of these benefits.

  • Use Summer EBT first. These benefits will only remain on your card for four months. Other EBT benefits last longer than that, so always use your Summer balance first. The system will do this automatically if you live in a state that has decided to add the summer money to your existing EBT card.
  • Get your freebies. If you get a special card for this program, be sure to use it to claim all of the EBT discounts that are available to you. We have a list of 1,000+ EBT discounts.

FAQs about Summer EBT

Since this program is still very new, we’ve had a lot of users ask questions about it. Here are some important things you need to know.

Someone told me it’s too late to apply. What can I do?

Don’t worry! Although some states and influencers have implied that it’s almost too late to apply for SNAP, that is not true.

The USDA has clearly stated that households must be able to apply for Summer EBT at any time between the start of the school year and the end of the summer operational period. The USDA clearly says, “Therefore, Summer EBT agencies must accept and process applications throughout the year.”

Agencies are allowed to encourage you to apply as soon as possible but they are not allowed to stop you from applying late.

What can I buy with Summer EBT?

According to USDA, you can buy any SNAP-eligible products with your Summer EBT benefits. This new program is basically just a SNAP extension for families who need help affording groceries when their children are home from school in the summer.

For more information about what you can buy with SNAP benefits, check out our Guide to What Can You Buy with EBT.

Relief Recap

Summer EBT is an exciting new supplemental food assistance program that will help low income families buy more groceries. This is an important program, because many families report that their grocery bills increase when their children are home from school during the summer months. By offering an additional $120 per child per summer, the government hopes to increase food security for those households.

Nicole is the founder and lead researcher of Low Income Relief. After a personal experience with poverty and homelessness following her husband's sudden medical discharge from the U.S. Army, Nicole discovered the life-changing impact of community resources. This experience ignited her passion for empowering others to navigate similar crises. Nicole launched her writing career at age 16, working for various newspapers and publications. Her commitment to in-depth research and accessible content has been recognized by Google for Publishers and other industry leaders. For over 20 years, she has applied her investigative skills to uncover the most helpful, up-to-date information on benefits programs and community resources, ensuring Low Income Relief maintains the most extensive resource databases available.