California Dream Act
A Note to Dreamer Students
You can go to college in California!
Submit your California Dream Act Application.
In-state tuition eligibility is expanding. AB 540 is still in place and now you may be eligible for in-state tuition even if you didn't attend 3 years of high school in California.
Review the Residency Requirements for Tuition Purposes for more information.
2023-24 California Dream Act Applications are now available for AB 131 Institutional grants and community college fee waivers. To apply, visit the California Student Aid Commission.
California Dream Act Legislative Provisions
Other state bills signed to improve opportunities for (AB 540) students in Higher Education:
- AB 844 (PDF) (Lara) Student Government Body (Effective January 1, 2012)
- AB 176 (PDF) (Lara) Standardized Testing: Valid Identification (Effective January 1, 2012)
- AB 540 State Law
- AB 540, signed into law on October 12, 2001, authorizes any student, including undocumented students who meet specific criteria to pay in-state tuition at California's public colleges and universities (e.g. California Community Colleges, California State University, University of California).
Any student, except a person in nonimmigrant status, who meets the requirements, shall be exempt from paying nonresident tuition at all public colleges and universities in California if they meet the following requirements.
AB 540 Eligibility Requirements
- Students must have attended a California high school for 3 or more years and have graduated or attained the equivalent of a high school diploma;
- Students must have registered or currently be enrolled at an accredited institution of higher education in California;
- Students must have filed or will file an affidavit as required by individual institutions, stating that they will apply for legal residency as soon as possible;
- Students may not be non-immigrants holding a valid lettered non-immigrant visa.
Source: The College & Financial Aid Guide for: AB540 Undocumented Immigrant Students
Submitting the Non-Resident Tuition Exemption Form
First Time Freshman Students:
- Complete and submit the Non-Resident Tuition Exemption (PDF) form to the Admission Office.
- Once final transcripts are received by the university's Admission Office, the form will be processed.
- The Non-Resident Tuition Exemption form should be mailed as soon as possible to:
CSU Maritime Academy
200 Maritime Academy Drive
Vallejo, CA 94590
First Time Transfer Students:
- Complete the Non-Resident Tuition Exemption (PDF) form and request an official copy of high school transcripts.
- Submit the form along with high school transcripts to the Admission Office.
- Once final transcripts are received by the university's Office of Admission Office the form will be processed.
- The Non-Resident Resident Tuition Exemption form high school transcripts should be mailed as soon as possible to:
CSU Maritime Academy
200 Maritime Academy Drive
Vallejo, CA 94590
- Summary of New Laws Investing in Higher Education (PDF)
- California Nonresident Tuition Exemption (Affidavit) Form (PDF)
AB 540 Rights & Privacy
Regardless of immigration status, students can apply for admission to a public college or university in California. The law allows students the following rights under AB 540 legislation:
- Public colleges and universities in California cannot discriminate in admission based on a student's immigration status.
- Students are not required to show an ID or Social Security Card for admission.
- Students are not required to show proof of legal U.S. residency in the review of an application.
AB 540 for Citizens/PermR
If you are a U.S Citizen/Permanent Resident and meet the eligibility criteria to apply for a Non-Resident Tuition Exemption (AB 540), please follow these steps to assure that your enrollment process goes smoothly.
- Make sure you turn in the ab 540 Affidavit along with your official High School Transcript PRIOR to the first day of school. If you do not submit the form prior to the stated deadline, you will be charged Non-Resident Fees, and will be expected to pay the full amount. Once you have been approved for AB 4540 status, you will receive a letter or email from the university. Please do not wait until the last minute!
- For financial aid purposes, please make sure you fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the priority deadline of March 2. You can check your financial aid status in your Student Center on the SF State Gateway. If you have been selected for income verification, it will be listed on your "To Do List". Please turn in any documents requested as soon as possible in order to receive a financial aid award. Please contact the AB 540 coordinators to ensure your State Financial Aid (if eligible) is reflected on your award.
AB 540 and undocumented students enrolled at SF State and other California public colleges or universities have the right to access the same general services as other students. These services include, but are not limited to Pre-admission Advising, Tutoring, Disabled Programs & Resource Center, Academic Advising, and more!
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.
Below is the wording for the box all students (except students with visas) should check on the form and the affidavit:
"I am NOT a nonimmigrant alien. [U.S. citizens, permanent residents, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grantees or aliens without lawful immigration status, among others, should check this box.]"