Census: Millions of Americans With College Degrees Utilize Social Safety Net Programs


Owen Daugherty
May 17, 2021
While adults without education beyond high school make up the majority of participants in four key social safety net programs, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows roughly 1 out of 7 recipients of such benefits were college graduates — and even more had some form of postsecondary education.
The findings from 2017 data tables recently released by the Census Bureau “reveal the broad socioeconomic range of adults who rely on government assistance.”
In 2017, about 9 million adults with at least some college education — including those who attended college but never earned a degree, those who earned an associate degree, and those who earned a bachelor’s degree or higher — participated in at least one of the four key government assistance programs highlighted in the census data: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).