Graduate Program Exemptions

What are Graduate Program Exemptions?

Being on the exempted list means that graduate students enrolled in these programs could be eligible for CalFresh benefits without having to meet the hourly work requirement though they must meet CDSS income guidelines. Under CDSS guidelines, these programs have been deemed to increase the employability of participants after graduation.

“In order for a program to be approved as a Local Program that Increases Employability, the program must contain an ongoing Employment and Training (E&T)-like component and the students participating in the program must be required to participate in the component. Programs which contain only optional components, drop-in services, or one-time workshops, will not be approved. Examples of qualifying components are internships, apprenticeships, on-the-job training, or continuous workshops that teach interviewing skills, resume writing, and job searching. Please refer to 7 CFR 273.7(e)(1) for more on E&T components.” 

List of Approved Graduate LPIEs (Updated April 2023)

If your program is listed in the document above, you are eligible to apply for CalFresh benefits! Note: If a student’s gross income is greater than $2,266 per month (for a household of 1), they do not qualify. Find more information about maximum gross income allowed here

For application help, schedule a Zoom appointment with one of our Application Assistants here. Or, feel free to visit us at the Redwood Free Market in RCC! If you'd like to apply on your own, you can do that here. Please email us at if you have any additional questions or concerns.

Can't Find Your Program? Here’s Why.

Over Summer 2021, our CFOP team went through the degree requirements of all 73 graduate programs offered at UCSC and using the CDSS guidelines, we applied for exemption on behalf of graduate programs whose degree requirements met CDSS requirements. If you don't see your program listed above we may have found that your program’s degree requirements do not meet CDSS guidelines. We will continue our efforts to assess graduate programs and reapply if they meet CDSS criteria. 

Questions or concerns? Email