Assembly Bill 396 – Requires The Department Of Social Services To Establish Guidelines For Community College Districts, California State University And University Of California To Obtain Approval Of Campus-Based Educational Programs That Meet The Federal Requirements To Provide CalFresh Benefits To Eligible Students

CATEGORY: Public Education Matters
CLIENT TYPE: Public Education
DATE: Jan 25, 2022

Existing federal law provides for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known in California as CalFresh. The federal government benefits allocated to the state are distributed to eligible individuals by the county. To qualify for CalFresh benefits, individuals must satisfy the eligibility requirements established by federal law.

Existing federal law provides that students who are enrolled in college or other institutions of higher education at least half-time are not eligible for SNAP benefits unless students meet one of several exemptions, including participating in an employment and training program for low-income households operated by a state or local government.

This bill requires the State Department of Social Services (the “Department”) to issue a guidance letter, no later than May 31, 2022, to counties, the Chancellor’s Office of the California Community Colleges, the Chancellor’s Office of the California State University and the Office of the President of the University of California that clarifies the following:

The state and federal eligibility requirements for a campus-based program to be a state-approved local educational program that increases employability that qualifies for the CalFresh student eligibility exemption; and the application and approval process for a campus-based program to be approved by the Department as a state-approved local education program that increases employability, including, but not limited to, identifying the supporting documents that must be submitted for program approval.

Campus-based programs at a campus of the California Community Colleges or the California State University eligible for qualification must submit an application for the program on or before September 1, 2022. The applications must be submitted to the Department. Campus-based programs created after September 1, 2022, are required to submit an application within six months following the formation of the program. If a program is available at more than one campus, the application must list each campus the program is available. The certification application may be submitted by an individual campus administration, by the Chancellor’s Office of the California Community Colleges, or the Chancellor’s Office of the California State University on behalf of the campus-based program. The bill requests that campuses of the University of California submit an application under the same period. An individual campus administration or the Office of the President of the University of California may submit the application.

The bill requires the Department to approve the campus-based programs that meet the eligibility requirements established in the Department’s guidance letter upon receipt of an application.

On or before September 1, 2023, and annually thereafter, the Department is also required to report to the Assembly Committee on Higher Education, the Assembly Committee on Human Services, the Senate Committee on Education, and the Senate Committee on Human Services the following:

The number of approved programs, disaggregated by name and campus;

The number of pending applications, disaggregated by name and campus; and

The number of applications denied, disaggregated by name and campus along with the reason for denial.

The Department is also required to post the report on its internet website.

AB 396 adds section 18901.12 to the Welfare and Institutions Code.

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