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CalFresh Eligibility For Students

Any individual who is a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States, with the exception of refugees and asylees, may apply as long as the income guidelines and student eligibility rules are met.

Basic student eligibility exemptions includes meeting at least one exemption: 

  • CalGrant A or B recipient 
  • Approved and Accepted for work study, even if the student does not have a work study placement 
  • Have dependent children under the age of 6 (or 12 without available child care services)
  • McNair Program of Chancellor's Associates Scholarship Program (CASP) 
  • Programs for current of former foster youth: 
    • Hope Scholars Program
    • Chafee Grant Program 
    • Extended Foster Care (AB 12)  
  • UC San Diego School of Medicine
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry Doctoral Program
  • Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Joint Doctoral Program in Global Health
  • Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health Epidemiology
  • Cognitive Science PhD Program
  • PhD in Experimental Psychology
  • Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology
  • Master of Advanced Studies in Clinical Research
  • PhD in Communication
  • PhD in Bioengineering
  • PhD in Bioinformatics and Systems
  • MA in Music
  • Theatre and Dance MFA Acting 
  • Theatre and Dance MFA Design
  • Theatre and Dance MFA Directing 
  • Theatre and Dance Playwriting MFA
  • Theatre and Dance Stage Management MFA
  • Recipient of CalWORKs (also known as cash assistance) 
  • Works 20 hours per week, or an average of 80 hours per month 

Please note that student eligibility may vary. If you are a UC San Diego student and would like to learn more, please fill out the CalFresh Assistance Form.

For any individual who is not a student please contact our partner the San Diego Food Bank for CalFresh application support.

COVID-19 Temporary Eligibility

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 has expanded student eligibility for CalFresh.  

The temporary expansions to eligibility include undergraduate and graduate students who:

  1. Are eligible for Federal Work Study:
    1. For verification, students can fill out the Work Study Verification Form and have the UC San Diego Financial Aid & Scholarships Office fill out the verification by emailing
    2. Students attending the UC San Diego School of Medicine or School of Pharmacy can fill out this Health Sciences Work Study Verification Form and have the UC San Diego Financial Aid & Scholarships Office fill out the verification by emailing
  2. Are determined to have a $0 EFC, or "Eexpected Family Contribution" for the current school year: 
    1. You can view your EFC if you go to TritonLink, click "TritonLink Tools," go under the "Financial tools" section, and then click on "Financial Aid." Choose the current school year, and your EFC should be under the “manage awards” section. 
      1. You can download a PDF of your financial aid award letter for verification in your CalFresh application
    2. Eligible students will also receive a letter from CSAC if they have a $0 EFC, which can also be used for verification in CalFresh applications
      1. View a sample letter in PDF format
    3. If you choose to use your FAFSA SAR ("Student Aid Report") as verification, it must be for the current 2020-2021 school year. You cannot use the SAR for the 2021-2022 school year. 

The additions to student eligibility for CalFresh are temporary and will stay in effect until 30 days after the COVID-19 public health emergency is lifted at the federal level. Once this passes, these can no longer be used for eligibility or for recertification of benefits.

If you would like to learn more about COVID-19 CalFresh related updates, see the COVID-19 tab on our Basic Needs website for more information.