Students can only qualify for CalFresh if they meet certain criteria. There are many definitions and exemptions that can be confusing. Read carefully in order to find out if you are considered a student and whether you may be eligible.
Note: Even if you are not eligible for CalFresh, you may still potentially qualify under non-student eligibility and other people in your household may still qualify.
- Is there a citizenship requirement?
- Yes. U.S. citizens may qualify for CalFresh benefits. However, some non-citizens such Permanent Resident Noncitizens (Legal Permanent Residents [LPR’s]), Refugees, Granted Asylum, victims of human trafficking or domestic violence, among other qualified noncitizen categories, may still be eligible to CalFresh benefits.
- Are international students eligible for CalFresh?
- Most international students have a student visa. Individuals with a student visa do not meet the citizenship requirement for CalFresh, which would make them ineligible to receive CalFresh benefits.
- Are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or AB540 students eligible for CalFresh?
- Unfortunately DACA and AB540 students are not eligible because they do not meet the citizenship requirement.
- Are undocumented students eligible for CalFresh?
- Unfortunately undocumented students are not eligible because they do not meet the citizenship requirement.
Who is a student?
You are considered a student if you are:
- Age 18-49 and is physically and mentally "fit" for employment. If the person has a disability, they are not considered a student.
- Enrolled at least half-time (as determined by the school) in regular curriculum at an "institution of higher education" in which the regular curriculum meets the standard requirements for graduation or certification in a particular field of study.
If you are considered a student, you may get CalFresh if you:
- Are approved for state or federal work-study and anticipate working during the current school year, OR
- Work at least 20 hours per week, and be paid for such employment, OR
- Are enrolled full-time, and are a single parent with a dependent child under age 12, OR
- Are exerting parental control over a dependent child under age 6, OR
- Are exerting parental control over a dependent child age 6-11 without adequate child care, OR
- Are receiving CalWORKS, OR
- Are receiving Cal Grant A or B, OR
- Are participating in CalFresh Employment and Training or another job training program accepted by CalFresh, OR
- Do not plan to register for the next school term, OR
- Are participating in ANY of the following:
- Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
- Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
- Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS)
- College Disabled Students Program and Services/Student Academic Support
- Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education (CARE) Program
- UC McNair Program
- CalFresh Employment and Training Program
- Mathematics, Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Program
- Puente Project
- Foster Youth Success Initiative
- Cooperating Agencies Foster Youth
- Educational Support (CAFYES)
- Extended Foster Care (AB 12/AB 212)
- Guardian Scholars Program
- Chafee Educational Training Voucher Program
Who is not a student?
The student eligibility rules do not apply to people who are:
- Age 17 and under or age 50 and older, OR
- Physically and mentally "unfit" for employment due to disability, OR
- In high school, OR
- Enrolled less than half-time (as determined by the school), OR
- Enrolled in programs or classes that do not require a high school diploma or GED, OR
- Enrolled in schools that are not considered institutions of higher education.