Metro

State rep. seeking to end Bridge Card abuse

Clinton Township sophomore Tamara Young is afraid of losing of her Bridge Card privileges.

“If my Bridge Card was taken away, to be quite frank, I would be devastated,” Young said.

This problem could become reality for Young and many other college students.

State Rep. Joe Haveman, R-Holland, is looking to severely limit who can obtain a Michigan Bridge Card, or Michigan Electronic Benefit Transfer, to prevent fraud.

Haveman, along with state Reps. Bob Genetski, R-Saugatuck, and Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, will introduce legislation to prevent abuse in the state’s welfare system which, they contend, includes Bridge Card abuse.

“Using this resource to buy beer, cigarettes, lottery tickets and even illegal drugs is an obscene abuse of the system,” Jones said in a statement. “Michigan is in a crisis and every tax dollar is very precious. As a state, we cannot afford to allow waste or welfare abuse.”

Gisgie Gendreau, director of marketing and public relations for the Department of Human Services, said the alleged fraud found in the 2008 fiscal year was $5.87 million.

“We take fraud very seriously and aggressively pursue allegations of fraud and misuse of benefits,” Gendreau said. “In 2008, for example, our Office of Inspector General investigated 3,310 fraud cases in the food assistance program.”

Haveman’s bill would require any student to provide extra information.

“If anyone wants a Bridge Card, they will have to prove through their tax returns that they are not a dependent,” Haveman said.

Haveman said dependents who are using Bridge Cards are, in effect, “double-dipping.”

Student effect

The Bridge Cards are issued by the state Department of Human Resources, which closely monitors fraud, Gendreu said.

Young, who is claimed as a dependent by her parents, said Haveman’s idea would harm a lot of people.

“Things are bad enough already and for this politician to want to even think of taking away Bridge Cards, well, it’s a big slap in the face, because I am sure there are plenty of people in the same boat as me right now, if not already worse off. I’m sure this politician’s idea would leave a lot of people hungry.”

Haveman said he is sympathetic toward struggling college students and is in favor of Bridge Cards going to students who qualify for them, but believes that public assistance should not be a first course of action, he said.

“I lived off of $20 here and there from my parents in college and know what it’s like to struggle in college and the first few years out of college,” Haveman said. “But public assistance should be kind of a last resort.”

71 Comments

  1. here’s an idea, instead of getting a bridge card get a job and cut expenses.

  2. One word…dumb.

    Michigan’s Economy sucks for EVERYONE, including adults. what makes you think students living on their own in a town with practically no job openings are any BETTER off than the rest of the state…

    • Because they're actually doing something with their lives. Most adults are just kicking back on unemployment and aren't even trying.

  3. Doesn’t help at all when you go away to college and look for a job, and all the jobs you’d think a college student would have are filled by locals. Not a great situation for students who sometimes only have the money they made in the summer to live off of.

  4. Students living in the residence halls with a 3 meal a day program can still qualify for a bridge card. There is no reason a student who is already having their nutritional needs met, needs to take my tax payer dollars that already subsidize a portion of the tuition costs. Some (not all) students going to college that have a bridge card are taking advantage of a system that is already strained for resources. I would rather see a family of 5 that has no way of putting food on the table get that money, than a college student with a dining plan use a bridge card to by snacks and junk food.

  5. Cant agree anymore with that point. It’s the people who abuse the system that drive the trailblazers and grand prix’s that mommy and daddy pay for, and have it just to use it whenever. I, who can speak for many students, didn’t have the luxury of my parents paying for everything. It helped me get by for 3 weeks out of a month, being unable to have a job while at school. But then you have these kids who have like 7-800 dollars racked up just because they don’t need it. There needs to be a program setup that can crack down on the peoples accounts that are stale and barely use it. There’s gotta be a better way for this, only allowing people and families that actually need the resources

  6. DefinitelyMaybe says:

    I’m a student, have a part time job, and have cut expenses as much as I possibly can. It still isn’t enough to live off of. I know that this system is often abused and that should be fixed, but making sweeping generalities like “Get a job and cut expenses” is not an intelligent thing to say. Jobs are nearly impossible to find in MP as it is.

  7. Yeah, it’s a shame when people who are being supported by mommy and daddy get to use these cards. But, when I was at Central, I was still a dependent on my parents taxes, but didn’t receive financial help from them. I had a job, but it was still difficult to pay rent, utilities, and tuition without completely subsidizing it with student loans.

    While it is a good idea to help limit these abuses, a standard like being a dependent is to vague. Pretty much any single, college student who is under 24 can be considered a dependent without their knowledge by their parents.

  8. I am a Senior and I use a bridge card. I live off campus in a two-bedroom apartment. I am NOT a dependent, because my mom is on welfare and doesn’t make enough to file taxes. I need the card because without it, I wouldn’t eat. Know why? Because money is scarce in my family. I also work full time and take classes full time. I get no help from either of my parents. It’s those selfish, societal leeches that ruin a helpful program for people like me – This will undoubtedly pass the house and I’ll lose my benefits, and then not be able to eat without looking for a second job. How realistic. Thanks, guys.

  9. “Using this resource to buy beer, cigarettes, lottery tickets and even illegal drugs is an obscene abuse of the system” —

    This isn’t even true, a bridge card can only be used for food items and won’t work for alcohol or cigarettes.

    I, too, think this idea is ridiculous and vague. I am another example of a college student using a bridge card. My parents make enough to just get by and MAYBE help with my tuition, but giving any more money is not in the cards.

    I can’t agree more with the previous comments regarding mac’s comment about getting a job. It’s not that easy. I have worked since I was 16 and once I came here, I applied over 25 places, and received no callbacks. Not even from places such as Pixie Burger or DQ. That says something.

  10. Students can get bridge cards? I am sorry, but why? When I was a student (just a few years ago), my mother (a mother taking care of 2 others) was unable to help me. My father refused to help me, so I did have to pay all on my own.

    I spent hours searching for scholarships, took out loans, lived in the dorms with the meal plans the first 2 years, and then when I did have my own apartment I didnt have a car and I lived in a cheap place near campus.

    I worked 70+ hours a week during the summer and saved all my money as I too could not find a job on campus. But I volunteer on campus and with the MI special Olympics, so my resume looked good in case opportunities arise.

    I paid for everything, tuition, housing/food, books, and all on my own. For those who have the bridge cards, I sure hope you don’t have cars… as if you can’t find a job, you don’t need to drive anywhere. And of course you aren’t at the bars- I hardly drank in college as I didnt have the discretionary income too.

    All in all my rambling is for a point- there are 1000′s of students who are in debt due to college. If you can not afford food, then lower your classes by 1 a semester- there’s an extra $1000 for you for your food (and someone who spent less than 100$ a month- a $1000 would have been heaven). And then lets leave the bridge cards for those who don’t have a job, and are having to feed their children too.

  11. The most disturbing aspect of the proposed legislation is the fact that Rep. Haveman is using misinformation to back his point.He’s portraying college students in a negative light when based on assumptions that are simply not true. You cannot buy anything but groceries on a Bridge Card, not tobacco, not Alcohol, not lotto tickets. Also, how exactly does he expect one to buy illegal drugs with a card of any sort? Do drug dealers now have a credit system? His arguments are absurd, and counterproductive if he really wants to limit the use to those who need the card.

    It would be in the best interest of the state to reduce student debt in any way possible so we don’t have another demographic of financially impaired Michiganders struggling to make ends meet. The Bridge card is a modest, yet effective way to accomplish this. If the Rep. feels there is potential for abuse, rather than barring more students from obtaining a Bridge Card, he should establish a separate program deigned for college students.

    I advise anyone who feels strongly on this issue to WRITE REP. HAVEMAN and allow our voices to be heard. We are tax payers as well and deserve to be represented on this issue that would directly effect a great number of us and future students.

  12. Thousands of bridge card users are allowed to get cash with them. They then turn around right in front of the clerks and buy cigarettes, beer, and lottery tickets.

    There are also many cases reported of students buying legitimate items and then returning them for gift cards. The gift cards can then buy anything.

    Anyone abusing the system to buy alcohol, tobacco, and gamble should lose the card. Bridge cards are meant to be temporary assistance for people who are truly in need.

  13. Well said, Kris.

    2007Grad- did you account for students who cannot even pay their tuition? Mine is all loans right now, and with no job and struggling parents, the bridge card is a huge relief. If I were to still live in the dorms, my parents or myself would somehow have to foot the bill ($900-1100 a month) just for living expenses + food. However, living off campus is only about $3000 for 12 months and food is extra.

  14. Mary- yes I did. I took out loans too as I had to pay all on my own (tuition and all).

    You mention that living off campus is $3000 for 12 months- well why don’t you spend the summer working then and not stay in Mt P, as if there are no jobs there anyhow. With this if 12 months =3000, then 10 months (August-May) would only be $2500, but you could work most of May (classes get out the first week right?), June, and July. Take advantage of a student job like Cedar Point or Mackinaw Island, and you could easily make enough money for the school year, if like I said you don’t have a car- which if you cant afford food surely gas and insurance would be too difficult as well, and rarley go to the bars or spend money on drinks.

    I would be okay if there was a separate program for students, as students do need help. But I never had a bridge card, paid for all on my own, managed to have fun and get involve in the different free activities.

    If a person is able to take 15-16 credit hours, then surely they could afford a necessity. And if they cant, drop 1 class. OR if a bridge carrier has a car, but claims there are no jobs, then get rid of the car. The money saved on insurance and gas will cover food. Those who truly need the card for a necessity, should cut down on non necessities- as there are more deserving people that do that already.

  15. “drop a class”, “get a job”, “cut expenses” “well I did it so you should too” “you’re a dependent”.

    These are completely ignorant statements.
    Being claimed as a dependent does not mean that your parents pay for anything at all. Many students cannot even get a loan because their parents claim them. Not only that, but many parents cannot afford to even support their child’s school costs, let alone their living expenses. Food isn’t the only thing one has to purchase to live. Utilities, rent, toiletries, school books, tuition, and much more are items that are usually forgotten in this debate. Yes, one could get by with 20 dollars a week or less for food but that is about it. 20 dollars does not cover food, medical bills (most students don’t even have health insurance), toiletries and other items mentioned above. Saving up all of your summer earnings doesn’t cover all these items plus tuition also. Did you miss the cost of tuition? Central Michigan is not an expensive school comparatively but a lot of the students that go here do not have “mommy and daddy” paying for them. I sure don’t.

    Stating that dropping a class affords you more money is a lie when you had to pay for the class with loans to begin with. “Don’t take 15 or 16 credits”. To graduate in four years, you pretty much are required to take 15 or 16 credits. Even just taking 12 credits is quite expensive at Central Michigan, and other universities cost even more. You say to find more than one job? How about those that cannot find even one? I am lucky to have the job I have right now and I know so many students that are struggling to find just ONE job, any job, and can’t because of the competition at the moment. Plus, I didn’t want to apply for a bridge card, but even with a job I found that it was either have one or not eat.

    In Mount Pleasant, most of the jobs (as mentioned previously) are filled by local residents. Even the menial jobs, which many students would love to have, are filled. And for those of us who attend school the hours we are available to work are limited. My personal schedule is that I work early in the morning, am in class all day, and then barely have time for homework and sleep. Not to mention there are two days a week where I am literally in school and meetings for school for 14 hours with only four fifteen minute breaks in between. Please tell me where the job is going to fit in to that? On the weekends? I already do work the weekends. Some students have 15 or more credit hours, work two jobs, and STILL can’t afford food because of tuition and living costs.

    I agree that families need the money for bridge cards as well. But instead of taking it out on the college students, maybe the source for funding this program should be looked for elsewhere. If you want us to afford school, then stop cutting the funding to colleges and public schools so that we CAN afford to go. Some of us don’t live in dorms with meal plans so we aren’t “given” food. Not to mention that it is actually MORE EXPENSIVE to live in a dorm with a meal plan because the meals are NOT free. Try researching the amount of money ONE meal in a dorm costs before you start claiming how students should stay there longer. When I lived in the dorm, the meals were about 7 dollars per meal and now these are even more costly.

    You can’t use a bridge card, again this has been mentioned, to buy beer, drugs, lottery tickets, or cigarettes. You can’t even use it to buy certain beverages (like energy drinks) because they are associated with alcohol. You cannot use the card to buy fast food or restaurant meals. We already DO have to go through a system to receive the bridge card, and it is a strict one that requires the applicant to provide proof of living costs, roommates, tuition and book costs, medical costs, and more.

    Again, it is not the system that is necessarily flawed. Just because I have a job doesn’t mean I can afford to buy food. I use almost every dollar I earn at my job to pay off bills and living expenses not included with the bridge card. Instead of judging others for their needs, try judging those who are supposed to be providing those in need. Take a look at what our political representatives get paid. Really look at their salaries for a change and how many hours they work and what they receive for pay and benefits. Then compare that to what an average worker at a fast food place makes per hour. Being a student does not negate the necessity of this card. Yes, most of us do not have to provide for other members of our families. But we do need to provide for ourselves.

    Instead of taking away our cards, how about reevaluating the amount given to families with dependents and raising their benefits? Or even lowering the amount of money given to single people so that those with dependents can receive more. I would be perfectly willing to have the amount I receive lowered (reasonably of course). But unless you have done the research on the statistics of those that receive the card and how the amount given to a person is processed, maybe you should hold your comments until that has been figured out.

    Sincerely,
    A tired of being stereo-typed college student

  16. Yes lauren, I know how much meals cost- about 3 years ago it worked out to about $8 a meal in the dorms- I am sure it is more now. And I do agree, there are some students that need the cards- BUT there are many that don’t deserve it, so better monitoring is needed.

    I am very liberal, and so I am quite shocked at myself that I seem more conservative on this issue- but I feel some people seem to think that they deserve everything with out giving up anything.

    If a student has a bridge card, claiming there are no jobs, then a car should be given up. You have a job, therefore you would need a car. But those with the card, shouldnt be going to the wayside, or other bars, on the weekends. Not implying you do, but I guarantee others do. Or if a person can afford to buy their own cigerettes, than they should be able to buy their own food. We should all give and take if we cant afford all ourselves- myself included.

    Instead of the bridge card, there does need to be somthing different for students (keeping the MI promise scholarship for one). Maybe better knowledge on where to get money for school- as if you think dependants (even if parent’s arent paying) can’t get loans you are very mistaken. And most CMU students don’t even know about the different scholarships available to them. Did you know you can apply for over 100 scholarships specific to CMU students that are listed in your bulletin? And in regards to utlities, find an apartment where you only have to pay electric, and ask for toiletries for christmas or birthdays.

    And if your parents dont have insurance (that as a dependant you are eligible for), then try Blue Cross Blue Sheild- if you are under 30 it is only $49ish a month, a cost that is less than most spend during a weekend drinking.

  17. Rep. Rick Jones says:
    October 17, 2009 at 9:44 am

    “Thousands of bridge card users are allowed to get cash with them. They then turn around right in front of the clerks and buy cigarettes, beer, and lottery tickets.

    There are also many cases reported of students buying legitimate items and then returning them for gift cards. The gift cards can then buy anything.”

    Anyone abusing the system to buy alcohol, tobacco, and gamble should lose the card. Bridge cards are meant to be temporary assistance for people who are truly in need.

    You sir are a liar. But then again, if you really are Rick Jones, it wouldn’t surprise me because all politicians lie.

    I have a bridge card, you cannot get cash with them or cash back with them. You’d know this if you had ever used one. The reason why the card is used is 1. because it’s easier 2. It stopped people from selling food stamps of cash. Now, if someone pays for someones food in exchange for actually hard cash, well cutting some people off from benefits isn’t going to stop that.

    If people are truly turning around and buy lottery tickets and such in front of a clerk then it’s the clerk job to call the police since it’s fraud! I find what you said about that to be a total lie since the person who watched this, didn’t say or do anything can also be prosecuted and would lose their job. There is no employer would accept that.

    Your speech about the cases of gift cards….I’m calling bs on that. I don’t know of any store that takes back FOOD! At the most, I’ve returned something say I grabbed the wrong thing, I’ve been allowed to exchange it for that and nothing more. There is no way they’d give you a gift card. Stores and clerks are very aware that the system could be abused that way so they don’t do it. Most stores have a policy and such things.

    Back up your claims with some proof…..but you can’t because you’re a politician. The things you’re spouting off are basically George Bush 101….in order to make yourself look good, scare the people and then get them fighting mad so they’ll attack anything and believe anything.

    And for 2007Grad
    You should probably leave America since you said the most UnAmerican things ever.
    “If a student has a bridge card, claiming there are no jobs, then a car should be given up. You have a job, therefore you would need a car. But those with the card, shouldnt be going to the wayside, or other bars, on the weekends”

    What about people that want to visit their family? Or get sick and need medical attention? They should call the ambulance when they have horrible flu? Cause that wouldn’t waste money.
    I got an idea that reflects yours…..if you’re an idiot with dictatorship ideas, you should be terminated since you’re wasting natural resources (air, earth, water, and food) and wasting tax payers money and time. I mean, really it would work out for me. It’d be one last tard spouting off idiotic rhetoric.

  18. I’m sorry “please” but since when is it unamerican to think that if someone is able to afford drinking, cigerettesm or owning a car, that they should also be able to be able to afford food?

    If they truley are in need of food, you would cut expenses- a car, drinking, or cigerettes are a way to do so. If you don’t drink, only have a car for emergencies, and don’t smoke- but still can’t buy food then you do deserve a bridge card.

    HOWEVER- if you go out drinking or have car you drive for non emergencies, then yes you should Not have my tax money. I rather have my tax money go to a person who has already made sacarfices and still can’t get what they need to live on.

    And I beleive most Americans would agree- if you cant afford food- then you shouldn’t be able to afford alcohol, cigerettes, or driving around. Especially how do students afford the car insurances if they cant even afford health insurance?

  19. 2007Grad – I find it insulting that you are insinuating that most college students (especially ones using the bridge card) don’t know how to cut their expenses themselves. You say:

    “And most CMU students don’t even know about the different scholarships available to them. Did you know you can apply for over 100 scholarships specific to CMU students that are listed in your bulletin?”

    I, personally, have applied for tons and tons of scholarships. Ones online, locally from my hometown, and through CMU. I did not receive any of them- besides the Promise my first two years from taking the MEAP.

    I know that you think you are suggesting things that will help, but I guarantee most of us already know these options are out there. They are just really hard to come by, especially with the last few years. Competition for scholarships is really high. Same goes for jobs.

  20. 2007Grad- In response to your negativity on college students. Yes you might have had to take out student loans on your own and without the bridge card. But we are lucky to have it now. Also again just because someone is considered a dependent doesn’t mean their parents are helping out..and if parents are helping it still doesn’t mean the money is there when the parents are taking out student loans too. I don’t know how much student loans and fafsa have changed since when you graduated, but now if you are a dependent the max amount of money you can take out I believe is less than $4000 a year. Now with Central’s tution, that covers just a little bit. Also you’re saying to drop below a class so you can have extra money. That works if you’re not a dependent. But students that are considered dependents might be on their parents work insurance or even their own while they’re in school. A lot of insurance companies require if you are a dependent that you have to be a full time student to be insured which is 12 credits. So if someone wanted to drop a class to get extra money they are risking losing insurance. I’m sure you know what can happen if you are not insured.

    Rep. Rick Jones- If people are using it in the cash area then go after that area not every person that has a bridge card. If the actual food stamps on the card do not allow you to purchase those things then the ones who only have that one option should not be punished for other people’s wrong doings. When you apply for the bridge card you have to be eligible for the cash back as Im sure you know. But for someone who is only eligible for the food stamps alone they are not allowed to misuse it. I think you need to be more specific in what you’re trying to fix in the system rather than applying it to every student that has a bridge card. Also if students are returning bought items then you need to find a solution for that. Instead of making it effect everyone by taking it away. Why not see if their is another option. If someone is returning an item pas a bill that they are not allowed to get cash back or a gift card. Only allow the money to be put back on the bridge card alone. I agree that people misusing the card should not have it. But I think not allowing students to have it will make some of them not have enough money to eat or cause them to quit school so they can eat.

  21. I was reading through through the comments again. And again 2007Grad if a student is using the bridge card to help them buy food because they don’t have the money. How are they supposed to afford $49 to pay for insurance since their parents don’t have it? Doesn’t make any sense. Central also has a insurance plan you can get through them too but again its still money that people don’t have.

  22. i am a mother of 3 little children and disabled. my husband works full time and i have been really upset at the fact that you college students can go ahead and get food stamps and cash assistance. we get food stamps and when my husband broke his arm and couldnt work for 2 months that is all we could get from dhs. every time i went into dhs all i saw were college students.so dont tell me that most of you are not just living off the government. when i went to college here i worked 3 jobs while going to school full time. there were not any jobs back then either except for part time here and there. you just have to get off your butts and act like adults. quit asking for handouts..

    • Hbmarie 2008 says:

      oh you can get food stamps but college kids cant. that's a little hypocritical. I am taking 18 credits, paying over $1000 each semester that isn't covered by my financial aid, and I'm working 30 hours a week to pay my rent and utilities. My parents don't help me. They don't have enough money to help me, and they claim me as a dependent to get more money for themselves. So I think us college kids deserve it just as much, if not more than you. Because your husband may be working full time, but what about your job. What about the fact that you get to claim your three kids. You don't have tuition and books to pay for!

      • college kid 2 says:

        i work 45 hours a week, go to school full time for all three semesters each year, don't have any student loans, live on my own, pay for my own college, no assistance from my parents (with the exception of my health insurance), they claim me and i get $30 in taxes back eacch year, i have NO financial help for college and have still managed to maintain a 3.5… and i don't have a bridge card.

        so what makes it so difficult for every other college student to do this if i can?

        • You should just be thankful that you have a job; that is fortunate, indeed. You must be making, what? $30000 a year at your job to be able to pay your rent, insurace, schooling (all on your own), food, and utilities. Congratulations.

  23. DefinitelyMaybe says:

    Everyone is forgetting that people who get cash benefits get those through their bridge card as well. It isn’t just for food assistance. Those with cash benefits can just go to an ATM and withdraw cash from their account to spend it on whatever they want. That’s why Rick Jones is saying that the system is abused with purchases of cigarettes and alcohol.

    I just went through the application process and received my card today. The application process was ridiculously easy; the state just assumes you are telling the truth about everything. They don’t make you prove how much money you have in the bank, or where your money is coming from. The interview is a good 4 minutes long. It’s a joke.

    A lot of students need Bridge Cards. It’s hard to get through college these days, and students that can prove they’re in need should get help. Jobs in college towns are hard to come by, and with a schedule that changes every semester they are hard to keep. But there are ton of people (not just students) enjoying benefits they don’t need due to a really lax screening process. Make people prove what’s in the bank, and how much they have out in loans. That’s what we should fix.

  24. I firmly believe that there should be a set outline of foods/items that can be purchased with the Bridge card. I think it’s ridiculous that they don’t already have it. Our tax dollars are paying for some college students smoking/ gambling habits! And some of these college students have their parents money to live off from already, which is absolutely bullshit. I have a friend who uses the bridge card and says that he loves it because he doesn’t have to work at all. I was just thrown by him saying that. My fiance and I are both hard working college students with a student loan to support us and working for minimum wage, but with all of that combined, we still don’t have enough to buy food to keep our cupboards from being bare. The bridge card is something I just only recently applied for because I didn’t want to have to stoop down that low to get public assistance to feed us, makes me feel a little bit inadequate about myself but its something that it has come down to for us and we ACTUALLY NEED it that’s the thing. It’s just sad that dependent college students who have the ability to get a job and are still getting money from their mommy’s and daddy’s for their cost of living, they’re still allowed to get the bridge card..bullshit

  25. I’m a college student living on my own. I’ve taken out 24,000 in loans just for this year to cover art school so i can pursue my dreams like I was told to do all my life. My parents dont even have enough money to file bankruptcy, so they can’t help me. But they do claim me as a dependant so they can get a little more money on their taxes. I go to school 30 hours a week and baby sit when i can for extra money… Why shouldn’t I be able to get help with food? This is heartbreaking for me. Yes, go ahead, outline what can and cant be bought, that doenst bother me because all I would buy is food… but i guess I wont be applying for it, because it looks like I wont get it anyways.

    thanks alot… this really renews my faith in this state.

  26. I couldn’t afford food because the michigan merit award was taken away, tuition costs increased, and I was ineligible to get more loans. The representatives must not realize that they have to make it easier for people to get through college, so then WE can help the economy by getting good jobs with our degrees after college. Pretty soon, nobody will be able to afford college, and then people will be on benefits for a hell of a lot longer than 4 years. Seriously, where are your brains and foresight?

  27. I go to WMU and there are tons of students who abuse the bridge card. They buy groceries with them so the money their parents gave them for groceries can go towards clothes, partying, etc. However, MANY students, like ME, have a bridge card just to survive. I have been looking for a job since June without any success and it’s not because I would be considered unemployable. I work hard and have a 3.5 GPA, so I don’t think it’s my fault that I can’t get a job, or two, or three. For a month, I ate once a day because that’s all I could afford to do. I had no energy whatsoever because not a single one of my nutritional needs was being met. This bridge card is literally saving my life. I’m not in a situation where I can just move home to eat and save money. My home is wherever my student loans are paying for that year. As far as cash assistance goes, I have no idea how someone gets that. Do you need to have tons of kids or medical expenses?? I have zero income and many bills and was not eligible for cash assistance. So I would assume that most college students aren’t eligible for cash assistance to go buy beer, cigarettes, and lotto tickets. While there are some who abuse the system, there are many more who are using this bridge card system in order to survive the college experience so they can be employed throughout life and not depend on the government for food. MAYBE the government should be focusing more on programs to get people OFF of government assistance that are using it as a life-long survival plan and not even considering employment or education. It costs a lot more money to give someone choosing not to work assistance for a lifetime than it does to give assistance to college students for a few years.

    And to anyone who is completely stuck on the idea that they don’t want to help anyone and everyone should always be completely self-sufficient, just remember that what goes around, comes around.

  28. Laura Krupa says:

    Let’s get back to CIVIL discourse and stick to the facts. All Haveman’s bill is asking for is more proof that a student is not a dependent AND getting a bridge card at the same time. That is double dipping. That’s cheating. But, true, I guess you can’t help it if your parent’s are putting you on their tax form as a dependent. But you COULD talk to them. Maybe they don’t even know they are cheating.

  29. Just for the people who are denying. you CAN get cash advances from a bridge card. for some people it’s not just FOOD money. do a little research people..

  30. You can get cash benefits IF YOU’RE APPROVED FOR IT. You have to apply for it separately from food assistance. You don’t just get to cash in your food benefits for cash.

    Second, (which comes as no shock) too many of you shoot your mouths off without knowing anything about the subject. Food assistance is just that – assistance. You’re not going to eat prime rib every night. Try researching how much the maximum amount is before flapping your gums.

    Third, money flies out of this country every day and we don’t even know where it goes – let alone be able to find the location on a globe. But the second somebody mentions helping a fellow American, people go apeshit.

    Pull your f’ing heads out of your asses. Let’s rake in the BILLIONS we ship overseas before you start bitching about tax dollars.

  31. Ok “Please” you say that if a clerk sees someone committing fraud that it is their responsibility to call the police because if they didn’t they would bee in legal trouble for not reporting it, and get fired, well that is complete bs. I work in a store and there is nothing that a clerk can do. 1 I don’t know the name of everyone I ring up, 2 I don’t have proof because it will always be my word against theirs, and 3 it’s the employer that tell us that there isn’t really anything we can do about it. But I agree with a lot of what you said otherwise.
    And Grad 2007, if you really did all you say and still did well in school then I would be surprised. All the guy wants is to just make sure people really need them. I work as many hours a week as my boss schedules me for, go to school full time, live on my own, and have medical insurance and I have a bridge card. The only reason i am able to afford med. insur. is through my job, so you saying people can pay $49 a month for insurance is bs because if someone is already struggling to buy food then the probably don’t have the money for med. insurance, and I have BC BS and pay more that 49 a month even with having it through work. So maybe you should have looked into what it actually cost, before making that statement. And as for people giving up their vehicles. Really? How would they continue to look for a job? What if they cant afford the cost of living in the dorms and have to live off campus? Oh thats right you want them to cut classes anyway so skipping them probably would be ok with you to. NOT every college student on the bridge card sits in their dorm or apartment drinking and doing drugs, but according to you we should stereo-type them, and if one applies for the card just say F*** you, just sell your car, and give up classes, because that will fix everything. If you don’t take 14-17 credits a semester then you will be in school longer, which means unless there is a drastic change they will be having problems affording the basics, such as food. And your bitching about what you had to do in college to get by, well that was your choice, their have been programs to help students buy food for years, even if you aren’t eligible for EBT there are churches and other organizations that can help.
    Further more if they made it where only people with children can get it, then what makes you think that people wouldn’t start trying to have kids so they can get it. People already have children to get bigger tax returns, and such so I’m sure they would do it for this reason as well.
    All in all you should like an opinionated jerk, who didn’t bother to research before you started spouting off random generalizations. Maybe we should just let DHS and the gov’t decide who needs food assistance and who doesn’t. I think in the mean time I’ll keep my car, so i can get to class, and work, and I’ll keep my class load because I would like to graduate on time, and be able to afford food and other things without assistance and living paycheck to paycheck.

  32. I worked in a convenience store a few years ago, and people came in with bridge cards and got cash back after buying things from the deli and then proceded to purchase cigs and alcohol. I asked the owner about it and he told me it was perfectly legit for them to do it as they were allowed to get so much cash each month from the bridge card to do as they pleased with. And it wasnt college students doing it.

  33. What’s up with all of these fake rumours about extra $250 cash on Bridge card no no no only $1. (dtm™)

  34. mom to two college students says:

    Michigan college students, who are dependents on their parents' tax forms, should not be eligible. Take the deduction or take the bridge card; you can't have it both ways. That's not fair to those of us who are buying your groceries.

    • Um, the students don't get to choose usually, the deduction. That's on their PARENT'S tax forms. I was a “dependent” student — my parents were POOR POOR POOR and couldn't help me. I had to break my back to prove I was actually independent. Jerk.

  35. Who ever can answer this question… You are saying as a college student you can still apply and be approved for a bridge card even though your parent's claim you as a dependent on their taxes? How is that not tax evasion?

  36. college students are going to school so they can get a good job and make money and contribute to taxes and society. they are not the ones you should be tightening up on, it the people in detroit that plan on using their bridge card as a way of life, not just a temporary crutch. If you take it away from those wanting to give back, you don't give people a reason or the ability to work. You should call it a minority card, or the illegitimate child producing card if you take it away from college kids because those will b the only people left on..

  37. futureMD says:

    I am a 4.0 premed student. I am in classes 8 hours a day, I volunteer at the hospital giving back to society for another 4 hours a day, and have to come home to study eat and sleep. I think its a better investment to have college kids on bridge cards because that allows your neighbors to be educated so they can get jobs and pay taxes. Those are the people that will be paying for your disability and assistance when you need it. The system is meant to be a give and take system, and I would prefer my money to go to someone working hard like a college student rather then someone in the ghetto that made government assistance a way of life. The max a person can get is 200 in food stamps a month that can only be spent on food or seeds to grow your own food. and 1 dollar cash everything else you guys are saying about cash advances only are for people with cash assistance which college students do not qualify for thats you minorities and disabled. Most college kids don;t have a choice whether their parents claim them they need to be claimed for their health insurance. Just because someone is a dependent on paper does not mean their parents give then money or even help them at all.

  38. Chuck kruba says:

    I supported my kids along with their partime jobs so they could learn how to survive in the real world. Now it looks like even well to do parents can send there kids off to school and look to the state to assist. Food stamps (lets call them by there real name, not the cheat friendly Bridge card ) were meant for the truly needy, it should be enforced that way. All the assistance programs are part of a larger government that our system can not sustain, the more they spread the assistance the more these state jobs are justified. Dad of three Mi. college grads and one son in the HVAC trade,,,,,

  39. I think we should get ride of Bridge Cards and just stick with food stamps. You get x amount of milk a month, x amount of eggs; the necessities. I worked at a health food store (sells organic produce, and everything is natural), it really upset me to see people using Bridge Cards to buy expensive food! I'm a college student at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor (costing $27,000 a year!), I also work a lot! If I'm able to maintain a 3.7 GPA, taking 16 credits, work full time while paying for my apartment, student loans, and food, I'm sure the rest of you guys can to. My roommate is trying to apply for it just so she doesn't have to pay for groceries. She says she wants to save money, so she thought applying for a Bridge Card would help. The thing is, one of her parents makes $65,000 a year; just one. Both gladly help her when she asks, yet she still wants a Bridge Card so she doesn't have to worry about using her money for groceries.

    • I always found the comments about people using bridge cards to buy expensive foods absolutely ignorant. The monthly grant is going to be the same regardless of what the people buy so if they want to live on higher-quality food and get less of it, more power to them! Declining health care coupled with declining health in America is a devastating reality. The people who are on state assistance for food who take care of themselves will be the people WE don't have to take care of later in life.

      With regard to college students…as long as they are independent of their parents and not claimed as dependents then they should be able to get help if they truly need it. I believe one of the conditions is they have to work. I know it is for me. I am widower. I have four children I solely support and I am back in college. I just got a bridge card and the day it came I cried my eyes out because I was so happy. It was truly a blessing.

    • I am a college student and it is not easy to find a job. I am considered independent by the federal government, and my parents do not help me with anything. I think Bridge Cards are helpful for students that parents either have no money, or don't care about them or both. It is not that easy to find a job….just because you have one does not mean everyone else does. Why don't you take a Sociology class and Social Work class to actually see what is going on around you. Why don't the people that say “Go get a job”, help others find and secure a job. Most people have jobs, and maybe work two, and still can't make ends meet. I do think it stupid that most people on the Bridge Cards buy expensive stuff, but that is because DHS has no restrictions. If you had money and no restrictions to what food you had to buy, I am sure a steak and crab legs would sound good…. The system, not the people are at fault. People will use the system to the maximum because they can. Before you start pointing fingers at everyone else, why don't you help those truly in need instead of being so closed-minded. Open your eyes, life may not be easy for others, just because you have a job, go to school (an expensive one), and are intelligent, does not give you the right to judge others that may need the Bridge Card. Imagine having no job, no car, no school, no food, no house, and then you get a Bridge Card, it would be a blessing. Think about what you say before you post.

    • Crf250rbrap says:

      If you are attending University of Michigan, you would know how to utilize lucid prose! Get over it, you don’t go to UofM… BRIDGE CARDS RULE!!!

  40. Kcsnikki07 says:

    Bridge cards should not be given to college students!!! I am a college student myself so I am living the life of one and it STILL … me off that college students are receiving aid when it SHOULD be going to parents that are struggling to place food on the table for their children…THAT'S IT! Get a job for crying out loud, it is okay to NOT party every night and work instead. Get off your lazy bums and work for your money, you're quite able, I'm doing it why can't you?

    • Arogant are we? says:

      For your information I am a college student living on my own, working 25 hours a week trying to pay rent ($500 a month and utilities another $100 a month) while also trying to pay for my tuitution, books, supplies, and catch up on 15 credits a semester! I cannot afford another $200 for food a semester.

  41. For all you haters out there, I am a almost 40 year college student with three additional mouths to feed. I get food benefits. What pisses me off about your comments below is the fact that I have worked for the past 25 years non stop. I have paid taxes!!! I have a daughter in college as well. So is it then not fair for me to take some extra help from the government I paid into for so long?? At least college students are trying to get someone where or better themselves. The people that shouldn't get benefits are the ones who sit on there lazy asses all day long and do nothing but live off the government!!! And that goes for any race/group!!!

  42. A bridge card for those who prove they have a financial NEED for food. I think that a person who qualifies for this benefit from the State of Michigan is entitled to the benefits. It is a shame that some of the people receiving these benefits are abusing them. Whether it is letting someone else using their card, trading the benefits for cash, or simply not making wise choices when purchasing food for themselves or their families. I think it would be best if there was a better system in place that could prevent abuse of these benefits. A better system should include providing a proper ID when purchasing food, receipts that require signature, and then having to account the amount purchased by submitting the signed receipts in to the Dept of Human Services. I also think that the food purchased should be monitored. This being said, I think that nutrition classes should be a requirement, and the person buying food with these benefits would be able to make healthful choices when shopping. We are facing such a horrible health epidemic in Michigan. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and so on. These diseases mainly caused by our diet and what we put into our bodies. As a result, taxpayers pay taxes for free health care. The costs of health care and the high levels of sickness in the state would be few compared to what they are now, if the state decided to decide what items at the grocery store were eligible to be purchased with food benefits. I know that this may offend some of you reading, because your own health should be in your own hands and what you choose to eat is your decision, but what about setting a healthful example to the next generation?

    • It is not appropriate to force people to attend nutrition classes, or to dictate what foods they can and cannot buy, simply because they cannot afford to purchase their own groceries. Should you have to attend a nutrition class? Then neither should I.

      Monitoring isn't such a bad idea. Turning in receipts for a previous month's grocery bill before the current month's benefits are issued could cut down on much of the frivilous spending people have claimed to observe. However, I think many people make poor food choices based on cost. With $10 a person can buy 10 cans of ravioli. Healthy food is often much more expensive than prepackaged crap.

    • Sounds like a good plan. However, if you were to apply for food stamps and have a case worker you would very quickly see that state workers do not have time to do this sort of tracking. They are overworked and backed up with emails, phone calls, and interviews.

  43. I am truly saddened by several of the comments I have read here. I came upon this site while I was searching for information about Bridge cards. Today, I met with a social worker at the Department of Human Services to inquire about emergency assistance for heat relief; I have 5% remaining in my propane tank, and I do not have the funds to fill it. I brought all the necessary paperwork (receipts, paystubs, bills, etc) to help determine my case. After reviewing my financial information the worker asked me why I wasn’t receiving state aid, or Medicaid. I told her that I was very resourceful, and that I knew how to live well on very little. We had quite a lengthy conversation which ended in me agreeing to apply for a Bridge Card, but only that and nothing else. As it turns out, the state is much more willing to help those in an emergency situation, if they already receive state assistance.

    After completing my interview, I retreated to the solace of my car and cried. Never in my life have I ever felt more worthless as a person, or as a parent. I thought to myself, “This proves that I am not able to support my child”. I felt the stigma. I felt the stereotype. “I am worthless”. “I am trash”. But, is that how I should feel? Should I be ashamed of myself if I have food assistance? It seems everyone else believes I should.

    I lost my job this past spring. I now work as a tutor. My income is about $700 a month. My house payment is $450. My auto and home owner’s insurance amount to $167.20. My car payment is $140. My electric and phone bill total $213. I have additional bills on top of the afore mentioned. The math doesn’t look good, does it? I take out the maximum student loan amount allowed every semester to pay for my tuition and books, and to supplement my modest income. That’s right; I am a full-time student as well.

    I’m the person if front of you buying my groceries with a Bridge Card. Do you know me? I donate $10 a month to charity, regardless. I’ve done volunteer work in other countries. I provide voluntary respite care for foster children. I tutor college students. I attend classes full-time, and I have an excellent GPA. I am a single parent, and I am a good parent. My child has no idea how poor we are, or how much I struggle. My child possesses a larger savings than I do. My child is my best friend; the most important thing in my life, and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for this person. Even if it means I have to suffer the emotional anguish of my own vanity, when looked down upon by other citizens, because I use a Bridge Card.

    I think that as a population, we have a lot to learn from each other, and about each other.

    Don’t judge.

    • good for you. I was in line behind a lady just this Thursday, on Thanksgiving who was using her Bridge Card to buy a pack of Cig's….Is that ok? I think not.

      • You can’t buy cigarettes with a bridge card. The program won’t allow it, and the bridge card won’t pay for it. Know what you’re talking about before you post; ignorance just makes you look foolish.

  44. I am an army widow with 3 young children. I have a full time job. I am enrolled in college part time also. I have a bridge card and I had to go through hell with DHS to get it. People need to get realistic about what is going on out here. Our state has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. If it was so easy to have a job that pays enough for you to pay rent, utilities, and food expenses everyone would have one. My paycheck is covering the rent, utilities, and daycare. I think if you are a student and your parents can't or won't help you then you need to apply for whatever you can get. If you see students who are getting help and are just being lazy call the fraud hotline that's what it's for. If more people reported the one's misusing this benefit we wouldn't have bored politicians making up more rules. Everytime I go to the grocery stores I see arab women using bridge cards and putting groceries in brand new 2010 trucks and cars. While I am in a 2000 Alero. Maybe if America stopped giving all the people from other countries more than it gives it's own citizens this wouldn't be a problem. You can come from overseas and get a business loan faster than a US citizen would. As soon as they get here they give them bridge cards and cash benefits. I wish America would do like other countries do and take care of it's own people.

  45. i am a soon to be army wife here in germany, about to go back to michigan with no job, no for sure home, and im 28. my husband has thrown me into a little bit of debt, as he hasnt helped me out with money what so ever and has torchered me endlessly since june. when i get back home, im applying for a bridge card, as well as unemployment. its something i will NEED to survive. i am not the type of person to abuse this privelage, as my mother was on food stamps, welfare, and bankrupt while i was growing up. i know what its like to be poor and out on your ass. i saw how my mother cut off government assistance the second she didnt need it. students need this, to further their education, lest we allow future generations intelligence to deteriorate just because they cant pay for college and food. for the lazy ones, screw off. my friends roommate is making $4000/month, the state doesnt know this, and he is getting free food on his bridge card. how is this fair?

  46. you cant buy cigs, booze, or lottery tickets on the bridge card.

  47. sister please says:

    Most of the people commenting on this are idiots yes bridge cards help college students and yes we should be able to keep them. You adults want us to be responsible and the first step is going to college. But you want to take away something that helps support us? Instead of getting upset about us taking taxpayers money get upset that our military is taking so much the economy is terrible and instead of them helping us they are helping a country that attacked us. Ya we smoke and drink get over it I’m sure when you were younger you did it too it was just easier to come by since they were cheaper.

    • I got 50 bucks on it that when your graduate you will continue to use a bridge card. You can tell your parents that they messed up when they informed you that the first step of being responsible was at the age of 18, attending college. They shouldn’t have bought your first car for you, but instead made you get a job at 14, so working for money wouldnt hit you in the face so hard at the age the government considers you an adult. I personally could care less if you drink and smoke, and the people who you are referring to who smoked and drank when they were younger, didnt use a bridge card bud. Thank you. Its been the upmost pleasure in knowing the views of the people that are spending my hard earned tax money.

      Sincerly,
      a 23 year old, colllege graduate, who didnt have everything handed to them.

      • Ha! Your hard earned tax-dollars. I know you wrote this very post from your parents basement and the multiple misspellings allude to your employment. Sorry to break it to you, but the meager taxes you pay on your job at Hungry Howies don’t even pay for half of one persons bridge card.

        Get off your pedestal.

  48. There is a business in Novi, Giuseppes Deli, it is a “speciality ” food store.. small store.. that sells imported foods – which are more expensive than regular grocery stores…and this business wants to accecpt the bridge card. MAKE SENSE OF THE STATE ALLOWING THIS?! Most middle class people can not afford specialty food products, so in turn there tax dollars that aide the bridge card are going to help people buy “speciality imported foods” … THIS IS NOT RIGHT! THE BRIDGE card buying imported goods in a european deli ….

  49. The only way to be eligable for a bridge card now is if I am less than a full time student and not working. But if I am a full time student in graduate school I cannot get a bridge card unless I work 20 hours a week, which a lot to ask of a full time student in a challenging program. How does that even make sense? The government are idiots to do this. They are encouraging people to not work and not go to school. I am a student and I pay for my school myself. When I graduate I will have over 100,000 dollers in debt but they say that I shouldnt be able to get help with food? And on top of that they took more money away from schools so they will probably raise their tuition.Im sure there is some fraud but that is no reason to take it away from everyone. They are just making an excuse to get more money. I don’t have time to work 20 hours a week now but that certainly doesnt mean that I wont be contributing to society in the future.

    • Marian Kramer says:

      I am President of the National Welfare Rights Union, located in Detroit, Michigan.  I agree with the student. The Government can bailout the Banks, Auto Companies, AIG, etc. and give more tax breaks to the corporations and the rich.  The people who are always lieing about unemployed workers, people on welfare, low income people, etc.People, who are introducing such bills for time limitation are some the seme people who are waging campaigns to justify and cover up how they are benefitting the corporations and the rich.  They (people in the government) lie about helping people to have a better life, because if they were so concern about the well being of the mass, then they would not be cutting badly needed Food Stamps for students or any person, who is in need. Furthermore, education would be free from birth to death. Those of us who are not needed no more to work for th different corporations, etc. are looked as people by the Republicans and Democratics, etc. as people that don’t  need no home, food,  education, medical,etc.  We need young people like the young man who was a student 3 months ago to help build a movement to get rid of poverty, because the government is not trying. So, join the movement.  

    • Marian Kramer says:

      I am President of the National Welfare Rights Union, located in Detroit, Michigan.  I agree with the student. The Government can bailout the Banks, Auto Companies, AIG, etc. and give more tax breaks to the corporations and the rich.  The people who are always lieing about unemployed workers, people on welfare, low income people, etc.People, who are introducing such bills for time limitation are some the seme people who are waging campaigns to justify and cover up how they are benefitting the corporations and the rich.  They (people in the government) lie about helping people to have a better life, because if they were so concern about the well being of the mass, then they would not be cutting badly needed Food Stamps for students or any person, who is in need. Furthermore, education would be free from birth to death. Those of us who are not needed no more to work for th different corporations, etc. are looked as people by the Republicans and Democratics, etc. as people that don’t  need no home, food,  education, medical,etc.  We need young people like the young man who was a student 3 months ago to help build a movement to get rid of poverty, because the government is not trying. So, join the movement.  

    • voice of reason says:

      So why is it other people’s problem if you don’t have time to work or aren’t willing to. No one signed you up for school or asked you to join a tough program. Why should I, as a taxpayer, have to pick up the tab for anything that you do. If you are in college i’m assuming that you are an adult, so why not act like one and start paying for your own shit. I have a four year degree in business and i graduated on time and worked 20+ hours a week. Think about this, if everyone thats paying for all of these government programs i.e. (myself), simply stoppped working and used a bridge card like you, everyone would starve! You better hope i keep working……

      Should the government wipe your butt and blow your nose as well?

      By the way you spelled Dollars wrong, keep studying!

  50. I could care less who gets a bridge card or not. My thing is if you get on the bridge card trying to support yourself and your child then hey that’s great. What piss’s me off is those who just keep having more and more kids. It’s ridiculous one kid turns into 2 or 3 even more and all of a sudden their getting more money on the card for each kid. If you needed to be on a bridge card with kid number 1 then why keep having more kids? I think the amount should stay the same that they were getting with that first kid. I don’t know doesn’t make sense. I don’t have a bridge card but I work every day to support my son and that just piss’s me off.

  51. I don’t understand why the government is so giving of tax payers money when they don’t even check into anyone that applies for it. I know probably 50 people personally who drive brand new cars, work under the table and are 30 yrs and younger. I have two children in college. I didn’t have the money to pay for them. They are taking out loans. They DO NOT qualify for the bridge card. They have friends who LIE to the STATE OF MICHIGAN about who their dads are, how much money they make etc. and these kids get $3,000 – $13,000 in PELL GRANTS. One friend actually gets $3,000 extra from our government each semester to do whatever she wants. PELL GRANTS not loans. If we need to help students go to school, great. Do not give them extra money to go on vacation and buy cars when my children are basically punished because they have a dad that has a job making $51,000 a year, they didn’t get pregnant in high school, they grew up in a two parent household. Why shouldn’t they get the same treatment the rest of the state gets. They government needs to check into every single case before they hand out my money to people who drive nicer cars than me and eat better! Unbelievable.

  52. Animalcrossing240 says:

    You know what makes me angry. My neighbor has a bridge card for no reason. She uses and saves all her money and has a job.

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