WHAT IS AB540?
On October 12, 2001, Governor Gray Davis signed into law Assembly Bill 540 authored by the late Assemblyman Marco Antonio Firebaugh. The law added a new section to the California Education Code that created a new exemption from the payment of nonresident tuition for certain nonresident students who have attended high school in California and received a high school diploma or its equivalent. [Education Code section 68130.5]
- Who qualifies?
You are an AB 540 student, and exempt from paying non-resident enrollment fees, if you meet all of the following criteria:
- Attended a California high school for at least three years;
- Graduated from a California high school, got a GED or passed the California High School Proficiency Exam;
- Are registered or enrolled at a California community college; AND
- If required, complete an affidavit saying you have filed (or will file when you are eligible to do so) for legal immigration status.
AB 540 students may be:
- Students who are U.S. citizens, but who are not CA residents
- Students who are undocumented
AB 540 students are not:
- Students with a non-immigrant Visa status (U-Visa and victims of sex trafficking may be eligible for AB 540 status)
- Students "home-schooled" by a parent who does not hold a CA teacher credential
- Students living out-of-state and enrolling in a private California "internet high school"
*New AB540 Students
Before enrolling, in order to be considered AB540 and eligible for the CA Dream Act, students must complete, sign and submit the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request to the Admissions Office. Official High School transcripts must be attached to the request in order to determine eligibility.
This is an expansion of AB540. It increases the scope of student eligibility for students who graduated early from a California High School with the equivalent of three or more years of credits. If student graduates early, they must have attended CA elementary or secondary schools for a cumulative total of 3 or more years.
CALIFORNIA DREAM ACT
- What is the California Dream Act?
The California Dream Act allows eligible undocumented student to receive California State sponsored financial aid. Authored by Assembly Member Gil Cedillo (Los Angeles), it became law in 2011 through the passage of two Assembly Bills, AB 130 and AB 131.
AB 130 allows students who meet AB 540 criteria (California Education Code 68130.5(a)) to apply for and receive non-state funded scholarships for public colleges and universities.
AB 131 allows students who meet AB 540 criteria to apply for and receive state-funded financial aid such as institutional grants, community college fee waivers, Cal Grant and Chafee Grant.
- Who qualifies?
The California Dream Act allows certain students who meet the requirements to apply for and receive state financial aid at California public and private colleges and private scholarships administered by California public colleges.
- Available Aid from the California Dream Act
- Cal Grant
- Chafee Grant
- Middle Class Scholarship
- UC Grants
- State University Grants
- California Community College (CCC) BOG Fee Waiver
- Some University scholarships
- Some private scholarships administered by campuses
The application deadline for all Dreamer Cal Grants and most of the other aid listed above is March 2.
Dreamer Cal Grants include:
- High School Entitlement Cal Grant A & B
- CCC Transfer Entitlement Cal Grant A & B
- Cal Grant C
(Dreamers are not eligible to receive Competitive Cal Grants.)
You must meet the application deadline and all applicable eligibility requirements to qualify for any financial aid listed above.
Get help on your application at a Cash for College workshop in your area.
Where can I go to find out about scholarships for undocumented students?
- For Cal State LA scholarships, visit http://www.calstatela.edu/financialaid/scholarships for current applications. You may also visit the following websites: www.e4fc.org or www.maldef.org or www.salef.org . These sites provide a list of scholarships that do not require you to be a US citizen or a legal permanent resident, and do not ask for a social security number.
- The Glazer Family Dreamers Resource Center provides a list of scholarships to students.
UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS FAQs
If I am undocumented, can I go to college?
- Yes, You can go to any college or university in California, if you meet the admissions requirements.
- You cannot be denied admission based on your immigration status to any state schools in California.
- You can pay in-state tuition if you meet the criteria for state law AB 540.
If I am undocumented, can I receive financial aid?
As an undocumented student, you may currently qualify for state financial aid. The California Dream Act, divided into AB 130 and AB 131, provides access to private funding in the form of scholarships and state aid, specifically the California Cal Grant, for those who qualify
What does Non-Immigrant mean?
- Students with current nonimmigrant visas are not eligible for this tuition exemption (exp. Tourist (F Visa) or student (B Visa).
- A student whose visa has expired and is now “out of status,” will be eligible for in-state tuition fees if they meet their state undocumented stated requirements.
- Students categorized as AB 540 (undocumented) will not be classified as California residents.
- A student with “any” legal status is not considered undocumented.
What are AB540 facts?
- AB540 does not apply to private colleges or universities, unless they decide to abide the set requirements.
- AB540 does not grant legal residency to qualifying students.
- AB540 does not grant state or federal financial aid.
- AB540 only provides an exemption to the requirements of paying nonresident tuition for students who qualify.
What are the AB 540 requirements?
- Student must have attended a high school in California for three years or more.
- Student must have graduated from a California High School or attained the equivalent of a high school diploma (i.e. Passed the GED or CA High School Proficiency Exam).
- Student must register or be currently enrolled in one of the three state institutions of higher learning (UC, CSU, Community Colleges).
- Student without Immigration status must file an affidavit with the public college or university stating that he or she has applied to legalize his or her legal status or will do so as soon as he or she is eligible to do so. (Some private schools may also require this, not enforced)
- All information provided by the student will be kept confidential by the college or university.
Does filing an AB 540 affidavit impact my California Legal Residency?
AB 540 does NOT establish legal residency for immigrant students or for undocumented students who are eligible for AB 540. It only exempts students from paying non-resident fees. Undocumented students who have questions about their legal residency should consult an immigration attorney.
Is My Information Private?
The information a student shares with a college or university is protected by federal law and CANNOT be shared with anyone, including immigration officials. It is protected by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. The school legally cannot share this information with third parties including the Department of Immigration and Naturalization (INS), now the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Also, not all AB 540 students are undocumented. Many are legal residents. AB 540 forms are worded in a way so as to protect undocumented students from having to declare their status (they are grouped with US citizens and permanent residents). The affidavit says “IF” they are an “alien without lawful immigration status,” then they will pursue a means to change their immigration status when it becomes available.
What is the Affidavit?
- The affidavit states that the student will adjust their status, as soon as they are eligible to do so.
- The affidavit is required by example at end of document law by the public college where the students will be attending.
- Students are not required to submit a new affidavit when there is continuous enrollment.
- The information on the affidavit is kept confidential, as required by law.
Please click here for the Affidavit, also known as the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request.
What are the differences between the California Dream Act and the Federal Dream Act?
The California Dream Act occurs at the state level. The passage of AB 130 and AB 131 by Governor Brown made The California Dream Act of 2011 an effective law in the state. The law at the state level allows certain undocumented students to apply and receive state financial aid and receive scholarships funded through private donors. On the other hand, the Federal Dream Act seeks to bring conditional residency for qualifying undocumented individuals. Although not yet passed by the United States congress, some of the stipulations concerning the Federal Dream Act will require applicants to be of good moral character, have graduated from high school, be currently enrolled or completed two years of college or university, and/or have enlisted in the US army for at least two years.
Where do I go to fill out the Dream Act Application?
Students can fill out the Dream Act Application at the following link: https://dream.csac.ca.gov/ ·