Frequently Asked Questions - CalFresh

CalFresh

Eligibility

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:

  • Have been approved for work study (even if you do not have a work study job)
  • Working a campus job (including GSR or GSI positions)
  • Part of a program Local Program that Increase Employability (LPIE). For up-to-date information, please visit this guide(link is external).
  • Have dependents under the age of 12
  • Receive services from the Disabled Students Program (DSP)
  • Work a non-campus job 20 hours/week or an average of 80 hours/month

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. 

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.

Application

What documentation will I need for my application?

Please note that below are examples but this list is not meant to be exhaustive. If you need assistance in obtaining any of the required documentation to complete your application, please let your CalFresh County worker know as soon as possible. 

Identification- Required

  • Examples of Identification include: driver's license, California I.D., U.S. passport, birth certificate, or Cal ID
  • For non-citizens: Permanent Resident Card or other relevant immigration paperwork

Pay Stubs- Required if working

  • For non-work study jobs: dated check stubs for the last 30 days OR statement of earnings from an employer
    • If you are a UC employee, statements can be found here.
    • Make sure your name is clearly visible
  • For work study jobs: your wages will not count as income. Make sure your worker knows your position is work-study. 

Financial Aid Award Letter- Required

  • Financial award letter showing Cal Grant A or B, and/or Federal/State Work-Study, and/or 0 EFC as well as Estimated Cost of Attendance
  • To access your letter go to CalCentral >> My Finances >> View Awards 
    • Save the whole document as a PDF

Schedule of Classes/Enrollment Verification - Required

You can provide either a schedule of your classes or enrollment verification that includes your number of class units

  • 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 >> Request Official Verification 
    • Make sure to select include: "My Program and Plan" as well as "My Earned Degrees"

Proof of Housing Expenses- Optional but highly encouraged

  • Housing expenses are optional but we encourage everyone to include them since they could impact how much benefits you may receive
  • Examples of rent/housing expenses may include 
    • Rent receipt (if you pay rent online, a receipt should be emailed to you)
    • Lease agreement which indicates the amount you pay
    • Venmo/Zelle transactions that show your name and the amount you pay
    • For University Apartments or UC Village:
      • CalCentral >> My Finances >> View PDF Statement >> under Your Bills select the document with your most recent bill

Have questions about the documents? Contact us at calfreshsupport@berkeley.edu

Post-Application

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.

Renewal

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 end of the month.  Just upload it online before then. You can do so at the Alameda County Social Services Website. You also have the following month after the "submit" month, though please note you may only be able to access partial benefits. For more support, please contact our team at calfreshsupport@berkeley.edu

Myths

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

No.

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.