CalFresh Food Logo


Students can only qualify for CalFresh if they meet specific criteria. You are considered a student if you are:

  • Between the ages of 18-49 and are physically and mentally “fit” for employment (not disabled)

  • Enrolled at least half-time (6 units) at an institution for higher education 

If you are considered a student, you can get CalFresh if you meet at least one of the following eligibility criteria (If one of these programs applied to you, you are able to apply for CalFresh):

  • Have an on-campus job (contact calfreshoutreach@sonoma.edu for a verification letter)

  • Work at least 20 hours per week (on average)

  • Approved for state or federal work-study money and have not refused any job assignments

  • Approved and awarded TANF-funded Cal Grant A or Cal Grant B

  • A full-time student who is a single parent to a child under 12

  • A part-time student with a child (ages 6-11) without adequate childcare

  • Do not plan to register for the next school term

  • Enrolled in Local Programs that Increase Employability

​If you are enrolled in any of the following Local Programs that Increase Employability (LPIEs) at Sonoma State, please contact calfreshoutreach@sonoma.edu for a verification letter.


Student eligibility rules do not apply to you if you are: 

  • Age 17 and under or age 50 and older

  • Physically and mentally “unfit” for employment

  • In high school

  • Enrolled less than half-time

  • Enrolled in programs or classes that do not require a high school diploma or GED

  • Enrolled in schools that are not considered institutions of higher education

If you think you may be eligible for CalFresh, please complete the Eligibility Prescreen Form and schedule a CalFresh Appointment with our CalFresh Team.


For CalFresh, a household is considered a group of people who regularly buy and eat food together:  

  • The people in a household do not have to be related to each other

  • Households can be as small as one person

  • The same address can have more than one household

  • You don’t need to have a home to receive CalFresh

Household types that must apply together:

  • Children under the age of 22 who are living with their biological, adoptive, or stepparent(s)

  • A married couple who lives together

  • An unmarried couple living together with a common child

Use the chart below to see if your household’s monthly income, before taxes and other deductions, qualifies for CalFresh benefits. You can also visit CalFresh Income Limits for 2023

Household Size

Gross Monthly Income

















*Add this amount for each additional member

+ $787


Note: CalFresh income limits may be subject to change. See CalFresh Income Limits for 2023 for the most up-to-date information. 


Does it cost money to apply for CalFresh?

No. Applying for CalFresh is free and does not require a credit check.

How long will it take to know if I’ve been approved?

In most cases, the county has 30 days after you turn in your application to determine if you will get CalFresh. During the 30 days, the county will interview you. The interview will be either over the phone or in person.

What if I am homeless?

You can qualify for CalFresh even if you do not have a home, address, or place to cook. People without homes can often get benefits within three days.

Can I qualify if I do not have a family?

Individuals can qualify for CalFresh. You do not have to have children to qualify.

Can I get CalFresh if I am in the military?

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can qualify for CalFresh if you are in the military.

I live with roommates, but we buy separate groceries. Will we be a household of one or two?

For CalFresh purposes, a household is defined as an individual, couple, or family that purchases and prepares food together, meets certain income guidelines, and has U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency. If each roommate purchases and prepares food separately, each will be a household of one.

I am 21 and live with my parents. Can I apply for CalFresh as my own household?

You must apply with your parents. All children under 22 that are living with their biological, adoptive, or stepparent(s), must apply with those living in their household. 

I am approved for work-study, but I do not have a work-study job. Could I be eligible for CalFresh?

Work study meets student eligibility if you are a college student between 18 and 49 years of age, enrolled half-time, have approved (accepted or awarded) federal or state work study, anticipate working, and have not refused a work assignment.

Do I need to work 20 hours per week to meet student eligibility?

Working and being paid for at least 20 hours per week meets student eligibility criteria, but there are other work exemptions that may qualify you for CalFresh. For more information, see CalFresh Application  Verification Document Checklist. 

I live in the dorms and I have a meal plan, can I be eligible for CalFresh?

Unfortunately, you do not qualify. Individuals do not qualify if they are receiving more than half of their meals per week (11 or more) from another source. 

I am an out-of-state student, but I reside in California for the school year, can I be eligible for Calfresh?

Out-of-state students may still be eligible for CalFresh if residing in California for the school year. The student would need to apply for CalFresh benefits in their county of residency.

What does NOT count as income?

  • Pell Grants (BEOG) or Cal Grants

  • Federal/state college work-study

  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG)

  • Stafford/Perkins loans

  • Educational assistance such as deferred payment loans, private grants or scholarships, if earmarked for allowable educational expenses

  • Bills paid directly by parents (where the student never handles the money)

  • Personal loans that need to be paid back

What counts as income?

  • Earned income (e.g. wages, self-employment)

  • Unearned income, like money/allowances from others

  • Stipends

  • Foster Youth Benefits if a student receives money directly

  • Military/Veteran Families benefits (some counted and others not counted as income)

What if I own a car or home?

You can own a car and/or home and still qualify for CalFresh.

I just moved to another city in California. Who should I tell so that I keep getting CalFresh?

If you moved to a city in the same county you lived in before, update your address with the CalFresh office right away. This will ensure you will still get important notices about your CalFresh. If you moved to a different county, contact the CalFresh office in your new county right away and request an Inter-County Transfer. The county can transfer your case and you should not have to reapply.

Will I have to get fingerprinted?

If you are only applying for CalFresh, you will not be fingerprinted.


What if no one in my household is a U.S. citizen?

You may still qualify if you or someone in your household has a Green Card, or is a lawful permanent resident (LPR). For additional information, see SNAP Policy on Non-Citizen Eligibility.

Will applying for or receiving CalFresh impact my family’s immigration status?

No, applying for CalFresh will not impact you or your family’s immigration status. 

For more information, refer to California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS) in both English and Spanish and the Public Charge Fact Sheet. 


Are the medical expenses of seniors and disabled people considered in determining eligibility?

Yes, there are special rules and deductions for seniors (60 years or older) and disabled people. 

There are special rules for households with a member 60 years and older or has a disability. The rules are complex, but they help more people qualify for the program. Due to the complexity of these special rules, we advise folks in this category to contact their county Social Services office for eligibility information, which is based on resources and assets. 

Can people who receive SSI/SSP receive CalFresh?

As of June 1, 2019 people who receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income) are eligible for CalFresh in California.