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CalFresh Eligibility

In an effort to clarify eligibility, the State of California has outlined a list of programs that could exempt students from the work requirement. Outlined below is a brief definition of a “CalFresh Student” and a full list of programs that now qualify as exemptions from the work requirement. Please note that students must still meet income guidelines in order to be eligible. Contact us for more information by filling out our CalFresh Assistance Form , please respond to the automated email and we will get back to you 4 to 5 business days!


Who Qualifies for CalFresh:

  • US Citizens
  • Legal Permanent residents
  • Exceptions for asylees and refugees
  • Seniors (60+)
  • Disabled People
  • SSI Recipients
  • Student

Student Definition:

  • To be considered a student, students must be:

    • Between the ages of 18 through 49

    • Enrolled at least half-time in an institution of higher education

    • Student is physically and mentally able to attend school and work
  • Must meet at least one of the exemptions listed below

Common Student Exemptions

  • CalGrant A or B recipient
  • Approved and Accepted for work study, even if the student does not have a work-study placement*

    • *refer to covid-19 temporary eligibility for more information

  • Recipient of CalWORKs (also known as cash assistance)
  • Works 20 hours per week, or an average of 80 hours per month

  • Have dependent children under the age of 6 (or 12 without available child care services)

LPIE Programs

Outlined below is a full list of programs that now qualify as student exemptions. During the application, these programs will be classified under the name LPIE.

All Campus Program Exemptions

  • Campus Employment
  • Research Assistantship
  • Teaching Assistantship
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
  • College Corps


Undergraduate Programs

  • B.A. in Human Developmental Sciences
  • B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning
  • B.S.  Human Developmental Sciences
    •  Specialization in Equity and Diversity
    •  Specialization in Healthy Aging
  • B.S. Environmental Systems
    • Earth Science
    • Ecology, Behavior, & Evolution
    • Environmental Chemistry
    • Environmental Policy
  • B.A. / B.S. in Global Health
  • B.S. Public Health
    • Concentration in Biostatistics
    • Concentration in Climate and Environmental Sciences
    • Concentration in Community Health Sciences
    • Concentration in Epidemiology
    • Concentration in Health Policy and Management Sciences
    • Concentration in Medicine Sciences

Master Programs

  • Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Science in Business Analyst
  • MA in Music
  • MA in ASL/English Bilingual Education
  • Master of Chinese Economic and Political Affairs
  • Master of Finance
  • Master of Education and Teaching Credential
  • Masters of Engineering in Bioengineering
  • Master of International Affairs
  • Master of Public Health
  • Master of Public Policy
  • Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAc)

  • Master of Science in Computational Social Science
  • Master of Science, Biostatistics
  • MFA in Writing
  • Visual Arts MFA Program
  • Neurosciences Graduate Program
  • Theater and Dance MFA
    • Acting
    • Design
    • Directing
    • Playwriting
    • Stage Management

Phd Programs

  • Ph.D. in Anthropology
  • Ph.D. in Art History, Theory and Criticism
    • Visual Arts
    • Art Practice
  • Ph.D. in Astronomy
  • Ph.D. in Bioengineering
  • Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Systems
  • Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering
  • Ph.D. in Cognitive Science
  • Ph.D. in Communication
  • Ph.D. in Compositions
  • Ph.D. in Computer Engineering
  • Ph.D. in Computer Music
  • Ph.D. in Computer Science
  • Ph.D. in Education
  • Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology
  • Ph.D. in Integrative Studies
  • Ph.D. in Literature
  • Ph.D. in Materials Sciences and Engineering (MATS)
  • Ph.D. in Mathematics and Science Education 
  • Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE)
  • Ph.D. in NanoEngineering
  • Ph.D. in Neurosciences
  • Ph.D. in Performance
  • Ph.D. in Philosophy
  • Ph.D. in Physics
    •  Biophysics
  • Ph.D in Interdisciplinary Research on Substance Use

Doctoral Programs

  • Chemistry and Biochemistry Doctoral Program
  • UC San Diego School of Medicine
  • Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Doctoral Program in Audiology (Joint, SDSU-UC San Diego)
  • DMA in Contemporary Music Performance
  • Joint Doctoral Program (JDP) in Language and Communication Disorders
  • Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology
  • Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health,
    • Epidemiology
    • Health Behavior
    • Global Health
  • Joint Doctoral Program in Global Health

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:

  • Are eligible for Federal Work Study:
    • 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 
    • 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
  • Are determined to have a $0 EFC, or "Expected 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.
    2. You can download a PDF of your financial aid award letter for verification in your CalFresh application
    3. 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
    4. View a sample letter in PDF format
  • If you choose to use your FAFSA SAR ("Student Aid Report") as verification, it must be for the current 2022-2023 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.

Housing and Income Eligibility


Off-Campus Household

  • Students under 22 and not living with their parents/guardians can apply independently. 
    • You can submit your lease agreement. The county will only need pages that include your address, you and your landlord’s signature, and your rent. Check out this link to learn more!
    • Most students live with roommates but they do not share a food budget, they would apply as a Household of “1”. 
  • Students under 22 and living with their parents/guardians must apply with them. 


On-Campus Household

  • Students who live on campus and receive two of the three lowest dining plans may be eligible for qualification so long as income and one other exemption is identified. 
    • You will need to submit your housing contract. Make sure you get your housing contract by emailing HDH, check out this LINK to learn how!
    • For more information about housing plans:  HDH Dining Plans 
      • Meal Plans that May Make UCSD Students Eligible for CalFresh
        • The 3936 Plan
        •  The 1968 Plan
      • Meal Plans that May Make UCSD Student NOT Eligible for CalFresh
        • The 5904 Plan

Income Guideline Table and Deductions

CalFresh Income Deductions are allowable expenses that can be subtracted from the household’s monthly gross income to arrive at the net monthly income.

Calfresh deductions include:

  • Child support
  • rent/ utility
  • Childcare costs
  • medical expenses exceeding $35
  • Student expenses* 
    • If you receive a stipend, and it goes above the income limit for your household, please reach out to a CalFresh team member. Reach out during  walk-in hours, set up an appointment or email us at to learn more about student expenses. 


San Diego Income Table

Number of People In Household

Maximum Monthly Gross Income Allowed- 200% Federal Poverty Level

Maximum Monthly Net Income Allowed- 100% Federal Poverty Level

























Each Additional Member