AB 540

scholarships for dreamers

As a leader in higher education with 23 campuses throughout the state, the California State University (CSU) is committed to ensuring academic opportunities to all students. Assembly Bill 540 (AB540), passed in 2001, allows students meeting the criteria below to be exempt from non-resident tuition. Assembly Bill 2000 (AB 2000) was passed in 2014 and expands the definition of students eligible for AB540. AB 540/AB 2000 allows students meeting the criteria below to pay in-state tuition, the same as resident students (e.g. undocumented, permanent resident, U.S. citizens) at California public colleges and universities.

Starting January 1, 2013, the California Dream Act (Assembly Bills 130 and 131) provided the opportunity for AB540 students to receive Cal Grant A & B Entitlement awards, Cal Grant C awards, institutional grants and community college fee waivers.
To be eligible for AB540, you must meet all the following criteria:

  1. The student must have:
    • attended a high school (public or private) in California for three or more years, or
    • attained credits earned in California from a California high school equivalent to three or more years of full-time high school course work and attended a combination of elementary, middle and/or high schools in California for a total of three or more years and
  2. The student must have graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent prior to the start of the term (for example, passing the GED or California High School Proficiency exam) and
  3. The student must file an affidavit with the college or university stating that he or she has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file an application as soon as he or she is eligible to do so.

Students who are nonimmigrants who are victims of trafficking, domestic violence, and other serious crimes who have been granted T or U visa status, under Title 8 of the United States Code, sections 1101(a)(15)(T) or (U) are eligible for this exemption.2 Students who are nonimmigrants, other than those with T or U visa status as noted above, [for example, those who hold F (student) visas, B (visitor) visas, etc.] are not eligible for this exemption. The student must file an exemption request including a signed affidavit with the college that indicates the student has met all applicable conditions described above. Student information obtained in this process is strictly confidential unless disclosure is required under law.

In 2014, Assembly Bill 2000 was enacted amending Education Code section 68130.5 to allow this additional flexibility in meeting the requirements for the exemption.
In 2012, Assembly Bill 1899 was enacted into law exempting holders of T and U visas from paying nonresident tuition. (Ed. Code § 68122.)

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.

For more information, please visit the California Dream Act website from the California Student Aid commission.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

The secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, announced a discretionary enforcement to exercise a policy made by the Obama Administration on June 15, 2012. This policy may benefit certain undocumented young students living in the United States.

Guidelines for Requesting Consideration for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals:

  • Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS);
  • Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a General Education Development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and;
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Financial Aid Resources

The California Dream Act allows students who meet the AB540/AB2000 criteria to apply for non-state funded scholarships and state funded financial aid.

AB 540/AB 2000 students can apply for:

  • Cal Grant
  • Chafee Grant
  • Middle Class Scholarship
  • California State University Grants
  • EOP/EOPS Grants
    • Some University Scholarships
    • Some private scholarships administered by your campus
Applying for Financial Aid

A Dreamer Financial Aid Application = CA DREAM Act Application + Non-SSN GPA Verification

Additional Important Information:
  • You must have an AB540 affidavit on file with your college/university to begin the review of financial aid eligibility
  • You must apply for financial aid every year
  • The California Priority filing deadline for financial aid is March 2
  • Cal Grants and Middle Class Scholarships have a firm March 2 deadline

Sonoma State Financial Aid & Scholarships

AB540 and DACA students are further eligible to apply for the University Scholarship Program (USP). The SSU Scholarship Office also provides several off-campus scholarship links and has an external Scholarship Resource Guide for Undocumented Students. Sonoma State is a partner college of TheDream.us, which offers scholarships for newly admitted students. Please visit the Sonoma State Financial Aid Office for more information.