Moving People Off Public Assistance Programs Through Education

Two of the largest federal transfer programs are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Federal expenditures on SNAP exceeded $74 billion in 2014, and SSI exceeded $3 billion. While these programs provide families in distress with important support, ideally we desire that Kentucky families would not require this kind of assistance. In 2014, over 800,000 Kentuckians received SNAP assistance each month while over 190,000 received SSI. This brief examines the relationship between participation in these programs and educational attainment for Kentuckians. We find that education is highly related to participation and that those with higher education are much less likely to participate. By increasing educational attainment in Kentucky to the U.S. level, we can move people off of these means tested programs saving over $100 million annually.