MR. JUSTICE STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.
Under the program administered by the Secretary of Agriculture and cooperating state agencies pursuant to the Food Stamp Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 703, 7 U. S. C. § 2011 et seq. (1970 ed. and Supp. V), certain low-income households are entitled to purchase food coupons at a discount. The price an eligible household must pay for food stamps is determined, in part, by its "income" as defined in the applicable federal and state regulations. Under those regulations a transportation allowance, which appellee receives from the State of Iowa and uses to defray the cost of commuting to a nurses' training program, is treated as "income." The questions presented on this appeal are whether those regulations are authorized by the statute and, if so, whether they are constitutional.
Appellee Hein, a divorced woman with custody of two children, is the head of a household receiving assistance.
After exhausting state administrative remedies, appellee filed a class action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa seeking to enjoin the enforcement of the Iowa regulations requiring that transportation allowances be included in income. Because the constitutionality of the regulations was challenged, a three-judge court was convened pursuant to 28 U. S. C. § 2281.
On remand, the Secretary of Agriculture was joined as an additional defendant. The District Court then held both the state and the federal regulations invalid. 402 F.Supp. 398 (1975). The court could identify no rational basis for treating as income a training allowance which is fully expended for its intended purpose. Consequently, the court reasoned, the regulation did not implement the statutory objective of providing adequate nutrition for low-income families. Since the allowance did not increase appellee's "food purchasing power," the District Court felt that it was totally irrational for the allowance to increase the cost of appellee's food stamps. This analysis led to the conclusion that the regulation conflicted with the Food Stamp Act and discriminated against recipients of transportation allowances in violation of the equal protection guarantee explicit in the Fourteenth Amendment and implicit in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
The salutary purpose and the broad outlines of the federal food stamp program are well known.
The District Court was correct that the regulations operate somewhat unfairly in appellee's case. Nevertheless, we are satisfied that they are the product of a valid exercise of the Secretary's statutory authority. Perhaps it might have been more equitable to allow a deduction for all commuting expenses,
Allowing a deduction for all transportation expenses would create significant administrative costs as well as risks of disparate treatment.
The District Court's primary reason for invalidating the regulations was its view that transportation grants do not increase food purchasing power.
We conclude that the federal regulations defining income were reasonably adopted by the Secretary in the performance of his statutory duty to "formulate and administer a food stamp program" and are therefore within the Secretary's statutory authority. Since there is no question about the constitutionality of the statute itself, the implementation of the
"a. $28.75 a month rent from a house in which she owns a part interest;
"b. $220 ADC;
"c. $44 Work and Training Allowance; and
"d. $36 food stamp bonus." App. 24-25.
"(a) All compensation for services performed as an employee . . . ."
"(f) Payments received from federally aided public assistance programs, general assistance programs, or other assistance programs based on need;
"(g) Payments received from Government-sponsored programs such as . . . the Work Incentive Program, or Manpower Training Program. . . ."
"(i) Cash gifts or awards . . . for support, maintenance, or the expenses of education . . . ."
"(l) Rents, dividends, interest, royalties, and all other payments from any source whatever which may be construed to be a gain or benefit . . . ." 7 CFR § 271.3 (c) (1) (i) (1976).
"(a) Ten per centum of income from compensation for services performed as an employee or training allowance not to exceed $30 per household per month. This deduction shall be made before the following deductions . . . ."
"(d) The payments necessary for the care of a child or other persons when necessary for a household member to accept or continue employment, or training or education which is preparatory for employment . . . ."
"(f) Tuition and mandatory fees assessed by educational institutions (no deductions shall be made for any other education expenses such as, but not limited to, the expense of books, school supplies, meals at school, and transportation)." 7 CFR § 271.3 (c) (1) (iii) (1976).
These regulations have undergone change during the course of this litigation. The express exclusion of transportation expenses as a possible educational deduction was added in response to the District Court's holding at a prior stage of the litigation that such a deduction was required by the regulations. See supra, at 290-291. More recently, the system of itemized deductions set forth in the text was replaced by a standardized deduction for all households. 41 Fed. Reg. 18788 (1976). We are told that enforcement of the new regulations has been enjoined. Brief for Appellant in No. 75-1261, p. 5 n. 3. This case would not become moot if the new regulations go into effect, because of the compensatory relief ordered by the District Court. See n. 8, supra.
"That some other remedial provision might be preferable is irrelevant. We have consistently held that where reasonable minds may differ as to which of several remedial measures should be chosen, courts should defer to the informed experience and judgment of the agency to whom Congress delegated appropriate authority. Northwestern Co. v. FPC, 321 U.S. 119, 124 (1944); National Broadcasting Co. v. United States, 319 U.S. 190, 224 (1943); American Telephone & Telegraph Co. v. United States, 299 U.S. 232, 236 (1936)."
"When these regulations were originally under consideration, it was administratively determined that tuition and mandatory fees are readily determinable, are uniform for all students, and are the primary costs of education (particularly college education) over and above a student's ordinary costs of living. It was also determined that the administrative burden of determining and verifying the expenses for the infinite variety of other outlays which may be incurred for education would be undue. Further, these other expenses, because of personal preference or otherwise, vary greatly from person to person and thus from household to household."
The fact that the Internal Revenue Code does not allow a deduction from income for commuting expenses lends support to the view that there is some reasonable basis for the Secretary's judgment in formulating these regulations. See Commissioner v. Flowers, 326 U.S. 465.
It is also contended that the regulations at issue work at cross-purposes with Title XX of the Social Security Act, which provides funding for the state program under which the travel allowance was paid. This contention is true only in the sense that the net benefit of the travel allowance is reduced by the increase in food stamp prices. But this is equally true of other government benefits, such as AFDC, which appellee concedes are properly included in income. Brief for Appellee 23-24. We find no indication that Congress intended different treatment for training allowances. Cf. 42 U. S. C. § 4636; Hamilton v. Butz, 520 F.2d 709 (CA9 1975).