Financial Aid – Dream Act

California Dream Act & AB540 

Students who are AB540 and have the California Dream Act are also called “Dreamers”

This includes students who are/have:

  • Undocumented
  • U Visa holders
  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
  • Completed the California Dream Act application
  • Meet the requirements for the non-exemption under AB 540, AB 2000, or SB 68 

Differences between FAFSA and California Dream Act

To be eligible for FAFSA you must be:

  • US Citizen 
  • Permanent Resident 
  • Eligible non-citizen 
  • T-visa holder

To be eligible for CADA you must be:

  • Undocumented
  • U visa holder
  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
  • Have a valid or expired DACA status
  • Meet the requirements for the non-exemption under AB540, AB2000, or SB68 

 


Financial Aid Available for Undocumented Students

Undocumented students qualify for the following types of financial aid: 

 

Non-Resident Exemption Requirements Under AB540

Students must meet the following requirements:

  1. Time and Coursework Requirements (either A or B):
    1. Attendance for three full-time years or the equivalent at any combination of the following:
      • California high school
      • California adult school (including non-credit courses offered by a California community college) 
      • California community college (maximum of two years of credit courses can count toward this requirement)
    2. Three years of California high school credits, along with three years of total attendance at a California elementary school, California secondary school, or any combination of the two 
  2. Degree or Unit Requirements (completion of any of the following):
    • Graduation from a California high school or the equivalent (GED, HiSET, TASC, CHSPE)
    • Attainment of an Associate degree from a California Community College
    • Fulfillment of the minimum transfer requirements from a California Community College to a UC or CSU campus
  3. Register or Enroll in an Accredited and Qualifying California College or University. This requires registration as a student at an accredited institution of higher education in California. See a list of Cal Grant eligible schools.
  4. Submit a Signed California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request Form(PDF). This form states that you meet all the requirements to qualify for a non-resident exemption under AB 540 and, if you are undocumented, that you are in the process of legalizing your immigration status (or will do so as soon as you are eligible to do so). This form is confidential and will not be shared with other agencies.

Exemption Requirements Footnotes

  • A year’s equivalence at a California community college is either a minimum of 24 semester units or 36 quarter units of credit. For non-credit courses, a year’s attendance is a minimum of 420 class hours per year (a semester is equivalent to a minimum of 210 hours and a quarter is equivalent to a minimum of 140 hours). Full-time attendance at a California adult school is a minimum of 420 hours of attendance for each school year.
  •  This provision addresses both a coursework and an attendance requirement, which can both be satisfied in three or more years. 

 


How to Get In-State Tuition and Financial Aid

Step 1- Submit the Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request

If you meet the AB540 requirements, then download the PDF and submit the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request (PDF) to Admissions and Records.

Step 2- Submit the California Dream Act Application

Every academic year you will need to submit one California Dream Act Application so you can be considered for financial aid programs that require the California Dream Act.

 


 

Please look over the chart for In-state tuition vs. Ca Dream Act vs. DACA

 

All of these bills DO NOT CHANGE YOUR STATE RESIDENCY STATUS

Eligibility Requirements for In-state Tuition AB540

Student must:

  • Attend three full years of high school in CA or the equivalent for GED
  • Graduate from high school, obtain a Certificate of Completion for GED in CA
  • Not possess a valid non-immigrant visa (unless a T or a U visa)
  • DOES NOT REQUIRE DACA

What this bill does:

  • Exempts students from out-of-state tuition fees
  • Make students eligible to apply for the CA Dream Act

 

Eligibility Requirements for In-state Tuition AB2000

Student must:

  • Attend CA high school or graduate early with the equivalent of three or more years of credits
  • Have attended CA Elementary or Secondary school for cumulative total of three or more years
  • Not possess a valid non-immigrant visa (unless a T or a U visa)
  • DOES NOT REQUIRE DACA

What this bill does:

  • Expands AB 540 to exempts students from out-of-state tuition fees 
  • Make students eligible to apply for the CA Dream Act

 

Eligibility Requirements for In-state Tuition SB68 

Student must:

  • Attend three years full-time or the equivalent credits at a CA high school, Adult school, Community College (Credit or non-credit), or any combination of the above; OR meet eligibility for AB 2000 
  • Graduate from a CA high school, obtain a GED in CA, attain an Associates degree from a CCC or fulfill their minimum transfer requirements for UC or CSU 
  • Not possess a valid non-immigrant visa (unless a T or a U visa)
  • DOES NOT REQUIRE DACA

What this bill does:

  • Expands AB 540/AB 2000 to exempts students from out-of-state tuition fees 
  • Make students eligible to apply for the CA Dream Act

  

About AB540, AB2000, SB68

Assembly Bill (AB) 540 is a California law passed in 2001 that states that undocumented students who meet certain requirements can be exempted from nonresident tuition at California public colleges and universities. This includes California community colleges, California State University, and University of California.

In 2014, AB 2000 was passed and expanded the definition to allow additional flexibility for who can meet the requirements. In 2018, Senate Bill (SB) 68 went into effect, further expanding the criteria.

These laws are important because the exemption allows eligible undocumented students to pay the in-state tuition rate of $46 per unit instead of the non-resident student tuition rate of $353 at California community colleges.

 

California Dream Act

The California Dream Act allows undocumented and nonresident students (US citizens and eligible non-citizens) who qualify for a non-resident exemption under Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540) to receive certain types of financial aid such as: private scholarships, state administered financial aid, California College Promise Grant, and Cal Grants.

The California Dream Act is unrelated to the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Deadline for the California Dream Act

Academic Year  Application Opens  Deadline   Tax Filing Year
2021-2022 (Fall 2021, Spring 2022, and Summer 2022) October 1, 2020 March 2, 2021 2019