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SNAP COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Application Information

CAFÉ Video Tutorials

Get in-depth explanations on how to apply for SNAP.

 

How can I apply for SNAP?

If you are not a current SNAP recipient, you can apply online for regular SNAP benefits. More information on this can be found at www.dcfs.la.gov/getSNAP.

You can apply for regular SNAP benefits online through the CAFÉ customer portal, or by downloading a paper application and submitting it to DCFS by U.S. Mail or fax. You will find a list of documents here that are required for proof of identity and eligibility. Applications cannot be emailed. For instructions on how to apply for SNAP, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/getSNAP or text GETSNAP (no spaces) to 898-211. If a SNAP household is eligible for supplemental SNAP benefits, the benefits will be automatically loaded onto the household’s EBT cards.

You can also find tips, how-to videos and more at http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/page/snap-how-to-apply. Find helpful how-to videos here: http://www.dcfs.la.gov/page/cafe-video-tutorials

Are we going to have D-SNAP (Disaster SNAP) benefits in response to the coronavirus pandemic?

There is no D-SNAP associated with the pandemic. The federal government is using other options for providing additional food assistance through the recently enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act (see above).If any additional options become available, we will make announcements on our DCFS website and Facebook page.

If you have a food need and believe you meet eligibility guidelines, you can apply for regular SNAP.

DCFS is not conducting interviews for new SNAP applications in September. Does this mean these applications are going to be "automatically" approved?

There's no such thing as "automatic" SNAP (food stamp) approval. SNAP applicants still must provide documents showing they meet federal eligibility requirements regarding income and resources: http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/page/snap-eligibility.

Providing all required documents up front will help keep the application moving. If a caseworker has a question or needs additional information, they will contact the applicant. Any failure to provide information will delay the application and could affect eligibility.

  • NOTE: Individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or households including anyone who receives Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program (FITAP), Kinship Care Subsidy Program (KCSP) or Strategies to Empower People (STEP) Program benefits, are exempt from the SNAP resource limit.
  • DCFS is also using Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) to expand SNAP eligibility to applicants who have excess assets but who are otherwise income eligible. If a household is BBCE-eligible, assets will not be counted in determining SNAP eligibility.

A family's SNAP benefit amount depends on the number of people in the SNAP household and the amount of their net income. Click here to view a table showing the maximum SNAP allotments by household size: http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/page/584.

Learn more about applying for SNAP and gain access to helpful tips and how-to videos at http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/page/get-snap

How is SNAP eligibility determined? How much could I receive in benefits?

To receive SNAP benefits, households must meet certain resource and income eligibility standards. In addition, a family's SNAP benefit amount depends on the number of people in the SNAP household and the amount of their net income. Click here to view a table showing the maximum SNAP allotments by household size: http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/page/584. Learn more about the documents needed to provide proof of eligibility: http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/page/204

Do you consider assets/resources when determining SNAP eligibility?

It depends. Individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or households including anyone who receives Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program (FITAP), Kinship Care Subsidy Program (KCSP) or Strategies to Empower People (STEP) Program benefits, are exempt from the SNAP resource limit.

DCFS is also using Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) to expand SNAP eligibility to applicants who have excess assets but who are otherwise income eligible. If a household is BBCE-eligible, assets will not be counted in determining SNAP eligibility.

Certain restrictions do apply. If household members have been disqualified (for program violations, failure to comply with work registration requirements, noncompliance with SSI-required treatment for addiction/alcoholism, conviction of certain crimes, receipt of substantial lottery/gambling winnings) or if a household member is otherwise ineligible (e.g., an ineligible student, ineligible alien, or on strike), Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility will not apply and assets will be considered in determining SNAP eligibility.

Assets of households who are not BBCE-eligible, and who are not otherwise exempt from the resource limit, must be counted in determining SNAP eligibility.

Assets include things like bank accounts, cash, certificates of deposit (CDs), stocks and bonds. More information on SNAP eligibility and resource limits.

Do coronavirus stimulus checks count as income when determining SNAP eligibility?

No. The coronavirus stimulus checks (also known as Economic Impact Payments) are actually refundable tax credits and do not count as income.

For more information on Economic Impact Payments, visit the IRS at www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments.

If I receive unemployment benefits, will that make me ineligible for SNAP?

Maybe. It depends on how much you receive and your household size.

While the USDA allows certain disaster unemployment assistance to be excluded from income for SNAP purposes, the agency has advised states that pandemic unemployment payments authorized under the CARES Act do not meet the same criteria and must be counted as income when calculating SNAP eligibility.

To determine whether your unemployment benefits would make you ineligible for SNAP, multiply your total pre-tax weekly unemployment benefit by 4.333 (the number of weeks in a month) to get your monthly income from unemployment. For example, if you receive the state maximum of $247, plus the extra $600 authorized in response to coronavirus, that would be $847 X 4.333 = $3,670 per month. That alone exceeds the maximum gross income allowable for families of 5 or fewer people. If there is other household income as well, the combined total of all income sources would be calculated before comparing to the income limits for eligibility.

For more information about what income and resources are counted in determining SNAP eligibility, and to see maximum income levels by household size, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/page/snap-eligibility.

I've lost work and income due to the coronavirus pandemic, but did not receive a formal termination notice from my employer. How can I show loss of income when applying for SNAP benefits?

DCFS is seeking guidance from our federal partners at the USDA Food and Nutrition Service about situations where a SNAP applicant has suffered a loss of income through a business closure and cannot reach the business to get verification of their termination or income loss. In the meantime, we are working with applicants to verify their loss of income through whatever means possible. For more about verifications and what kinds of proof are needed, click here: http://www.dcfs.la.gov/page/204.

What documents do you need to process my SNAP application? How can I send them?

When applying for SNAP benefits, there are several documents you need to provide – either by uploading them in CAFÉ when you apply or by emailing/mailing/faxing them to us.

Uploading these documents in CAFÉ when you apply will help reduce the time it takes to process your SNAP application. Please gather these documents and save them to your computer or mobile device before you start the application process so you will have them ready to upload when you apply. CAFÉ can accept scanned PDF documents, as well as GIF, JPG and PNG photos. For a video tutorial on How to Upload Documents to CAFÉ, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqDbW1m_fRc&feature=youtu.be. This and other helpful How-To videos about CAFÉ and applying for SNAP can also be found at www.dcfs.la.gov/page/cafe-video-tutorials.

Documents you need to provide with a SNAP application include proof of:

  • Identity
  • Status as a legal resident, if applicable
  • Wage information if employed or a notice of termination or separation if recently unemployed
  • Self-employment income information
  • Any other income, such as unemployment compensation, Social Security, veterans benefits, child support, or retirement income
  • Medical expenses
  • Child support paid to someone outside your home

For a list of what kinds of documents can be used as proof, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/page/204.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are applying for FITAP and/or KCSP, additional documentation is required. For a list of what documents are required with FITAP/KCSP applications, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/page/204.

If you cannot upload your documents in CAFÉ, you may email, mail, or fax them to us instead:

  • Email to LAHelpU.DCFS@la.gov
  • Mail to DCFS Economic Stability, P.O. Box 260031, Baton Rouge, LA 70826
  • Fax to (225) 663-3164

When you send your documents by email, mail or fax, please be sure to include on each page: your name as it appears in our records, your date of birth, your mailing address and the last four digits ONLY of your Social Security Number.

I'm having trouble uploading my verification documents to CAFÉ. Are there other options for sending my documents to DCFS?

The best way to provide documents is through the DCFS CAFE portal. You can find a helpful how-to video about this and other SNAP application issues here on our website. However, if you're having trouble, you can send your documents using one of the following options:

NOTE: Applications cannot be emailed. They must be filled out online in CAFE, or sent to us by fax or U.S. Mail at the below number/address. Only supporting documents can be emailed.

  • Fax the documents to (225) 663-3164
  • Mail copies of the documents to:

DCFS Economic Stability

P.O. Box 260031

Baton Rouge, LA 70826

You should also include your name, date of birth, your mailing address and the last four digits only of your Social Security number. If you already have a SNAP EBT card, you should include your case ID number (the small number below the 16-digit number on your card).

Find out what documents are needed to provide proof of eligibility: http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/page/204

After I apply, how and when will I find out if I'm approved?

You will be notified by mail once an eligibility decision is made on your application. DCFS has 30 days to process your application. However, if you are determined eligible for SNAP benefits, you will be eligible from the date of application.

I applied for SNAP and haven't heard back. How can I check the status of my application?

Because of the great volume of applications DCFS has been receiving, it may take 30 days to process applications. Providing all required documents at the time of application can help expedite the process. More about what must be verified and examples of proof. If we do not receive all required documentation to make a determination on your case, you will receive a call and/or letter from your caseworker, requesting the needed documentation.

After you apply, you can check on the status of your application through our online CAFÉ customer portal at www.dcfs.la.gov/cafe. After signing into your CAFÉ account, go to the “My Applications” page and click the status link next to the application. Possible status updates include: Submitted, Received, Incomplete, Pending, Awaiting Verifications, Verifications Received, Approved, Denied and Unavailable. Please note that, due to the volume of applications we have received during this pandemic, it may take some time for your application status to be updated (for example, from the time you send your verification documents until your caseworker can review them and mark your case as “verifications received.”) Please be patient as we work to process cases as timely as possible. 

You can find a helpful how-to video on this and other topics involving applying for SNAP at http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/page/cafe-video-tutorials.

If you have additional questions about your application or case, you may:

  • Call our Customer Service Center at 1-888-LA-HELP-U (1-888-524-3578), 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please be aware that wait times may be long.
  • Email our Customer Service staff at LAHelpU.DCFS@la.gov. Please do NOT send more than 1 email on the same issue. Multiple emails will only clog the system and delay response times.

I faxed/mailed/emailed in my verification documents. How can I know whether you received them?

You can check the status of your application through our online CAFÉ customer portal at www.dcfs.la.gov/cafe. After signing into your CAFÉ account, go to the “My Applications” page and click the status link next to the application. Possible status updates include: Submitted, Received, Incomplete, Pending, Awaiting Verifications, Verifications Received, Approved, Denied and Unavailable.

PLEASE NOTE:  Due to the high volume of applications we have receive, it may take some time for your application status to be updated (for example, from the time you send your verification documents until your caseworker can review them and mark your case as “verifications received.”)  Please be patient as we work to process cases as timely as possible.

You can also check your status through our Call Center’s automated system (1-888-524-3578).

Find out more about the documents required for SNAP eligibility: http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/page/204.

Can I contact my caseworker through CAFE? How?

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Yes, SNAP, FITAP, KCSP and Child Support Enforcement clients can contact their caseworkers through the upgraded CAFÉ Self-Service Portal at www.dcfs.la.gov/cafe.

For SNAP, FITAP and KCSP:

  • Log into your CAFÉ account
  • Click on “Check My Cases” on your My Account page
  • Click on the “Details” link next to the case you are asking about (for example, “SNAP Details” next to your SNAP case) under “Case Summary.” This will take you to the Case Details page.
  • On the Case Details page, scroll down to the section labeled “Questions About Your Case?”
  • Select your question or topic from the drop-down menu (for example, “I would like to reschedule my interview” or “Why did my case close or benefit amount change?”)
  • Click the “Submit Now” button to notify your caseworker of your question
  • A message will then be sent to your caseworker for a response. Please note that the response can take up to two business days.
  • When your caseworker responds, you will receive a Notification in your CAFÉ account Inbox. Please check your CAFÉ account regularly.

NOTE: If you just need general information about CAFÉ, please use the HELP or FAQs section within CAFÉ. If you would like to request changes or the closure of your case, please complete and submit a Change Report. For other questions, use the “Questions About Your Case?” feature described above. If your question or concern does not appear in this section, you may contact our Customer Service Center at 1-888-LA-HELP-U (1-888-524-3578).

For Child Support Enforcement:

  • Log into your CAFÉ account
  • Click on “Check My Cases” on your My Account page
  • Click on “Child Support Enforcement Details” under “Case Summary.” This will take you to the Case Details page.
  • Click on “Child Support Enforcement Message Center” under “General Information”
  • Click on “Submit a Question” and send your question or information
  • A message will then be sent to your caseworker for a response. Please note that the response can take up to two business days.
  • When your caseworker responds, you will receive an email notifying you that a response to your question has been placed on the Child Support Payment and Information Center. Please log in to view the message.

NOTE: If you just need general information about CAFÉ, please use the HELP or FAQs section within CAFÉ.

How can I get personal assistance with my SNAP benefits?

Call the LAHelpU Customer Service Center (888) 524-3578. The regular hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., M-F.

  • To speak with a customer service representative, select your language, then press these numbers in sequence: 3-1-3-6.

Or email the Customer Service Center at LAHelpU.DCFS@la.gov with a brief explanation of your reason for writing. 

  • If you are a current SNAP recipient, please include your full name as it appears in our records, all of your contact information and your case identification number (the smaller number below the 16-digit number on the front of your EBT card).
  • If you are not a current SNAP recipient, please include your full name as it appears in our records, all of your contact information, your date of birth and the first four digits of your Social Security number.

How can I request a fair hearing to review the outcome of my application?

Clients have 90 days from the date of DCFS's decision on a SNAP case to appeal the department's decision. The decision letter you receive from DCFS will include instructions for filing an appeal. You will need to complete and sign the section below "Fair Hearing Information" and return it to the address indicated in the letter.



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Early SNAP Benefits

November Benefits Issue Date - 11/1/20

Because of lingering effects from Hurricane Laura, DCFS will issue regular SNAP benefits early in October. SNAP recipients will receive their benefits on Sunday, November 1.



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EBT Cards 

When will I receive my EBT card?

If your application is still pending on the 21st day after your application date, an EBT card will be mailed to you automatically. This will ensure you have a card in-hand in case your application is ultimately approved, so that you can access benefits more quickly.

PLEASE NOTE:  No benefits will be loaded onto the card unless/until your application is approved, so you may receive a card with $0 benefits loaded onto it. The benefits would then be loaded onto the card the day after your application is approved.

If your application is approved before the 21st day after your application date, an EBT card will be mailed to you the day after your application is approved. The card will already be loaded with the amount of benefits for which you have been approved.

If your application meets the federal criteria for expedited services, an EBT card will be mailed to you when your application is received by DCFS. Please note that you may receive an EBT card without benefits on it, even if your application is subsequently denied. Benefits will be loaded onto your card if/when your application is approved.

I received an EBT card, but then I received a letter saying my application had been denied. Why did I receive a card?

EBT cards are mailed to applicants automatically if their application is still pending on the 21st day after their application date. We do this to ensure clients have a card in-hand as soon as possible, in case their application is approved, so benefits can be accessed more quickly.

If you are determined to be ineligible and your application is denied, however, no benefits will be loaded onto the card.

I received my EBT card, but there were no benefits on the card. When will benefits be loaded?

EBT cards are mailed to applicants automatically if their application is still pending on the 21st day after their application date. We do this to ensure clients have a card in-hand as soon as possible, in case their application is approved, so benefits can be accessed more quickly. However, no benefits are loaded onto the card until the application is approved.

If your application is approved, your benefits will be loaded onto your EBT card the next day.

My relative/friend/neighbor who receives SNAP benefits is staying home during the pandemic for health or other reasons. Can I do their grocery shopping for them using their EBT card?

Yes. You may use a relative/friend/neighbor’s EBT card to go grocery shopping for them if they give you their card and their PIN.

PLEASE NOTE: Louisiana EBT cards cannot be used for online grocery shopping. The shopping must be done in-store with the card and PIN.



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Redeterminations

Are September 2020 recertifications on schedule, or have they been extended?

September simplified reports and redeterminations are on schedule. There has not been a federal waiver for September. If you received a letter from DCFS telling you to submit a simplified report by September 5 or a redetermination application before September 15, do not ignore it. Follow all instructions in the letter to keep your case active.

Before completing your application, it’s important to make sure you are using the upgraded CAFÉ Self-Service Portal at https://sspweb.ie.dcfs.la.gov/selfservice/

To determine which version of CAFE you are viewing, look at the top of the CAFE webpage and see whether it says "CAFE Customer Portal" (old system) or "CAFE Self-Service Portal" (upgraded system). If you are currently in the old system, you can reach the new system by going to https://sspweb.ie.dcfs.la.gov/selfservice/

NOTE: If this is your first time visiting our upgraded CAFE Self-Service Portal, you will need to create a new CAFE account (even if you have an active SNAP case). For directions on how to do that, please watch this tutorial on How to Create a CAFE Account: http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/page/video-tutorial-how-to-create-a-cafe-account

I received a text message from DCFS saying my SNAP case closed because I didn't complete my July redetermination. What do I do now?

If your case was closed because you did not complete your redetermination, you must reapply for SNAP to be considered for benefits again. The sooner you apply the better! If you are determined eligible for benefits, the amount you receive for your first month will depend on your application date. For example, if your application date is in July and you are eligible, you will receive a full month of benefits for August; however, you may not receive them on your regular mail code date.

To apply for SNAP, log into CAFE at https://sspweb.ie.dcfs.la.gov/selfservice/.

NOTE: If this is your first time visiting our upgraded CAFE Self-Service Portal, you will need to create a new CAFE account. For directions on how to do that, please watch this tutorial on How to Create a CAFE Account.

Has DCFS extended redeterminations and simplified reports for August 2020?

Yes. DCFS received approval for a number of waivers for August (see press release). Among those, SNAP cases for clients whose annual recertifications or simplified reports were due in August 2020 have been automatically extended until February 2021. 

Clients who previously received notices requiring them to reapply for benefits by August 15 will receive a new notice in the coming months with an updated deadline. There is no need to call or reapply until then.

 

It's time for my redetermination or simplified report, but the system won't let me submit. What do I do?

If you have previously bookmarked or saved the link to our CAFE customer portal on your computer or phone, you may have linked to our old CAFE Customer Portal rather than our new, upgraded CAFE Self-Service Portal. To figure out which version of CAFE you are viewing, look at the top of the CAFE webpage and see whether it says "CAFE Customer Portal" (old system) or "CAFE Self-Service Portal" (upgraded system). If you are currently in the old system, you can reach the new system by going to https://sspweb.ie.dcfs.la.gov/selfservice/

NOTE: If this is your first time visiting our upgraded CAFE Self-Service Portal, you will need to create a new CAFE account (even if you have an active SNAP case). For directions on how to do that, please watch this tutorial on How to Create a CAFE Account.

It's my first time using the new CAFE Self-Service Portal. How do I know if I'm in the right place, and how do I create an account?

You can reach the new CAFE Self-Service Portal by clicking on following web address: https://sspweb.ie.dcfs.la.gov/selfservice/If it says "CAFE Self-Service Portal" at the top of the page, you are in the right place!

To figure If this is your first time visiting the new CAFE, you will need to create a new CAFE account (even if you have an active SNAP case). For directions, please watch this helpful how-to video:  http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/page/video-tutorial-how-to-create-a-cafe-account. You'll find other SNAP video tutorials at http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/page/cafe-video-tutorials.

 



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SNAP Text Messages

I received a text message claiming to be from DCFS. Is the text legit?

From time to time, DCFS sends text messages to SNAP recipients and/or applicants with helpful information regarding benefits or other updates, as appropriate. The text is marked as coming from LADCFS.

How can I stop receiving text messages from DCFS?

SNAP recipients/applicants can opt out of receiving text messages from DCFS by replying "STOP" to the text message. Please note that by opting out of text messages, you may miss timely information about benefit changes in response to coronavirus. Please be sure to regularly log into your CAFÉ account and check your messages there to ensure that you receive important notices regarding your benefits. Please also continue to visit the DCFS website at www.dcfs.la.gov for updates.



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Supplemental SNAP Benefits

October 2020 Supplemental SNAP Benefits - 10/16/20

DCFS has received federal approval to issue supplemental SNAP benefits for October 2020. Families who are receiving SNAP for October, but who don't already receive the maximum allotment for their household size, will receive a supplement for October to bring them to the max.

For current SNAP recipients, October supplemental benefits are scheduled to be loaded onto their EBT cards on October 16. DCFS will communicate with SNAP recipients about these supplements closer to the date.

Those who have applied for SNAP, but aren't yet certified as eligible to receive benefits, will have October supplements loaded onto their cards on a rolling weekly basis after their applications are approved.

SNAP benefits can be used for up to 365 days after they are issued.

Find out what the max benefit is for your household size at http://www.dcfs.la.gov/snap-allotments.

What are supplemental SNAP benefits?

Under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and with authorization from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, DCFS can issue additional benefits to SNAP households to bring them up to the maximum monthly allotment for a household of their size.

By federal law, households already receiving the maximum monthly allotment for their household size cannot receive supplemental SNAP benefits

What are the maximum monthly allotments for SNAP households?

You can find the maximum monthly SNAP allotments per household here.

How much will I receive in supplemental SNAP benefits?

SNAP households will receive supplemental SNAP benefits in an amount that will bring them up to the maximum monthly allotment for a household of their size.

For example, for a household of 4 people, the maximum monthly allotment is $646. If that household normally receives $400 in monthly SNAP benefits based on their income and expenses, they will now receive an additional $246 to bring their total monthly benefit up to the $646 max for their household size, for each month that supplemental SNAP benefits are issued.

For a list of the maximum monthly SNAP allotments by household size, see the previous question.

Do I have to use my supplemental SNAP benefits right away?

No. SNAP benefits, including supplements, are good for up to 365 days from the date of issuance.



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Work Requirements

Have the work requirements for SNAP been suspended?

The rule that SNAP recipients who are classified as Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) can receive only three months of SNAP benefits without meeting federal work requirements has been temporarily suspended through August 31, 2021, or until other new standards come into effect.


SNAP Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its agencies, offices and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, religious creed, disability, age, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the agency (state or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form (AD-3027) found online at: How to File a Complaint, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

1. Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

2. Fax: (202) 690-7442; or

3. Email: program.intake@usda.gov.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.