Frequently Asked Questions - CalFresh


Are graduate students eligible to apply for CalFresh?

Graduate students, similar to undergraduate students, must meet certain guidelines in order to qualify for CalFresh. For graduate students, the group of students who are the most likely to qualify include: 

  • Students who have been approved for work-study
  • Students who work 20 hours a week or an average of 80 hours a month
  • Students with dependents under the age of 12
  • Students who receive services from Disabled Students’ Services (DSP)

All students must be within the income limits of CalFresh. Below is a list of income that is excluded:

  • In-Kind Benefits – Any gain or benefit that is not in the form of money (i.e., meals, clothing, housing provided by the employer, etc.)
  • Vendor Payments – Money paid to a third party for a household expense by a person or organization outside of the household.
  • Deferred Educational Loans
  • Grants and Scholarships
  • Cash donations from a charitable organization of not more than $300 in a calendar quarter.
  • Income received too infrequently/irregularly to be reasonably anticipated but not more than $30 in a quarter.

Graduate students can and are encouraged to convert their loans into work study to strengthen their application.

Education Opportunity Program is in the process of expanding their sponsorship to eligible Graduate Students.

If you are not eligible for CalFresh, we recommend applying for the Food Assistance Program.

I am undocumented. Can I apply for CalFresh?

Since CalFresh is a federal nutrition program and is currently only open to US citizens and legal permanent residents, you will not be able to apply. However, we encourage you to apply to the Food Assistance Program instead.

Learn more about Basic Needs resources available to undocumented students at our For Undocumented Students page, or receive further guidance and support from the Undocumented Student Program.


What documentation will I need for my application?


  • Government issued ID: Driver License, CA ID, U.S Passport, or Birth Certificate 
  • AND Student ID Card
  • For non-citizens: Permanent Resident Card

Pay Stubs

  • Work study jobs DO NOT count as income. If your county worker asks about your job, let them know it is work study, therefore part of your financial aid package (not income).
  • For non-work study jobs: dated check stubs for the last 30 days OR statement of earnings from employer.
    • If you are a UC employee, statements can be found here.

Proof of Housing Expenses

  • Rent receipt (if you pay rent online, a receipt should be emailed to you)
  • OR first page of your lease agreement
  • OR venmo transaction
    • Email receipt is preferred
    • Screenshot is okay
    • Must be clearly labeled
  • Informal rent or lease letter can be submitted, but must be dated with the amount paid and contact information for the person who wrote you the letter
  • For University Apartments or UC Village:
    • CalCentral >> My Finances >> View PDF Statement >> under Your Bills select the document with you most recent rent bill
  • Utilities or Other Bills: gas, electricity, water, or telephone (only if the bills have your name on them, Venmo screenshots are okay)

Financial Aid Award Letter

  • Financial award letter showing Cal Grant A or B, and/or Federal Work Study
  • To access your letter go to CalCentral >> My Finances >> View Awards >> My Financial Aid Summary Report
  • OR if applying as EOP, contact an EOP counselor for a letter
    • Make a same day appointment here:
    • DO NOT apply as EOP if you have a CalGrant or Work Study, you will be asked for additional documentation
  • OR if applying under DSP status, obtain a letter from your DSP Specialist 

Schedule of Classes

  • Schedule of classes showing the number of units you are taking

    • CalCentral >> My Academics >> View Academic Summary >> Print

  • Enrollment Verification
    • CalCentral >> My Academics >> scroll down to Academic Records on the bottom left >> Enrollment Verification >> View or Print Enrollment Via Self Service >> Obtain an Enrollment Certificate
    • Also submit this document if you get mail from you caseworker asking for proof of enrollment

Have questions about the documents? Contact us at


Where can I use my CalFresh?

You can use your CalFresh benefits at most major grocery stores suchg as:

  • Target
  • Walgreen’s
  • Costco
  • Berkeley Bowl
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Berkeley Student Food Collective
  • Bear Market

Find the whole list here.  You can even use it at Farmer Markets! For more information, visit the Ecology Center.

Will I continue to receive benefits during school breaks and summer?

Yes, CalFresh benefits are year round. Your EBT card will be refilled every month regardless of holidays. The only time a card cannot be refilled is in the case of a government shutdown.

Will receiving benefits affect my financial aid package?

CalFresh benefits are provided in addition to financial aid, they do not negatively impact eligibility for or total amount awarded.

Note: CalFresh resources are not taken into consideration when initially awarding financial aid. These resources may be taken into consideration, however, when requesting additional aid for food via a Food Assistance Program request.


I missed the deadline to turn in my SAR 7 form. It says it was due the 5th, but I haven’t turned it in. What should I do?

Don’t worry! Your SAR 7 form is not due until the 28th of the month you received it. Just upload it online before then. You can do so at the Alameda County Social Services Website.


Will applying for CalFresh take away benefits from those who need it more than me?


The total amount of CalFresh benefits available for everyone has already been predetermined and set aside by the government based on how many people are eligible, and 2 in 5 students are eligible for CalFresh! This includes EOP students, Cal Grant recipients, work study students, and more.

If you are eligible for CalFresh, then benefits have already been allocated to you regardless of whether or not you use it. It will not take away from other folks who also qualify.