AB 540 Defined
California Assembly Bill 540 or AB-540 is a California law passed in 2001 which states that undocumented students who meet certain requirements can qualify for in-state tuition at California public colleges and universities (includes Community Colleges, CSUs and UCs).
In 2014, Assembly Bill AB-2000 was passed, expanding the definition to allow additional flexibility for who can meet the requirements. This is very important because otherwise undocumented students would pay international student tuition, which is over three times the cost, putting college out of reach for most students.
Who qualifies for AB-540/AB-2000?
In order to qualify for AB-540/AB-2000 status in California, the student must meet the following requirements:
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Who qualifies for AB-540/AB-2000?
AB-2000 also expanded the definition to include students who have been granted T or U visa status. Please note, 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.
Please note, 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 U.S. 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 â€œIFâ€ they are an â€œalien without lawful immigration status,â€ then they will pursue a means to change their immigration status when it becomes available.
Can AB-540 students qualify for Dream Center?
Yes! In 2011, the California Dream Act (AB130/AB131) was passed, granting eligible undocumented AB- 540 students access to private and CA state-funded Dream Center such as institutional grants, community college Board of Governorâ€™s (BOG) fee waiver, Cal Grant and Chafee Grant.
At Chabot College, undocumented AB-540 students are also now eligible for state funded special programs like Puente and EOPS. Under CA Senate Bill 1210, the UC and CSU systems are in the process of creating a Dream Center loan program for qualifying students starting in the 2015- 2016 academic year.
Undocumented AB-540 students fill out the CA Dream Center Act Application to apply for Dream Center. AB-540 students still DO NOT qualify for federal Dream Center (including Federal Student & Parent Loans, Pell Grants and Work Study) and therefore DO NOT fill out the FAFSA. U Visa holders also fill out the CA Dream Center Act Application instead of the FAFSA.
AB-540 students can apply online for financial aid through the California Dream Act Application.