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When it comes to immigration reform, a “Dreamer” (also spelled “DREAMer”) refers to a young person who qualifies for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. Dreamers are also referred to as “DACA recipients”. While the majority of Dreamers are Latino, they are a diverse group and come from a multitude of countries and cultures. Some Dreamers can pay less in tuition because of Assembly Bill (AB) 540, legislation that allows students who are not California residents – but who meet certain requirements – to pay the resident rate instead of the nonresident rate.

What is AB 540?

Assembly Bill (AB) 540 is legislation that allows students who are not California residents – but who meet certain requirements – to pay less in tuition by letting them pay the resident rate instead of the nonresident rate.

What is the California Dream Act?

The California Dream Act allows undocumented and nonresident students (U.S. 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 terms "California Dream Act students," "AB 540 students," and "dreamers" are used interchangeably and include students who:

  • Are undocumented
  • Have a valid or expired DACA
  • Are U Visa holders
  • Have Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
  • Meet the non-resident exemption requirements under AB 540

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

What Financial Aid is Available for Dreamers?

Dreamers can apply for the following types of financial aid: 

  • State grants, including the California College Promise Grant (Formerly BOG Fee Waiver), Cal Grants, Chafee Grants, and Student Success Completion Grant
  • Assistance from EOPS, CARE, or CalWORKs
  • Scholarships

Eligibility

You can get AB 540 status if you:

  1. Meet one of the following high school requirements:
    • Attended a California high school for at least three years
    • Took the equivalent of at least three years of credits from a California high school and attended at least three full years at California K-12 schools
  2. Graduated from a California high school, got a GED, or passed the California High School Proficiency Exam
  3. Are enrolled at a California community college
  4. Have filed (or will file when you are eligible) for legal immigration status, if applicable

How to Apply for Nonresident Tuition Exemption and Financial Aid

Step 1: Submit the Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request

If you meet the AB 540 requirements, then submit the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request (PDF) to Admissions & Records. You will still be classified as a nonresident, even if you are exempted from paying nonresident tuition.

Step 2: Submit the California Dream Act Application

You only need to submit a single California Dream Act Application (CADAA) each academic year to be considered for financial aid programs that require the CADAA.

Academic year CADAA Available Deadline to submit CADAA Tax filing year
2019-2020 (Fall 2019, Spring 2020, and Summer 2020) October 1, 2018 March 2, 2019* 2017
2020-2021 (Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021) October 1, 2019 March 2, 2020* 2018
2021-2022 (Fall 2021, Spring 2022, and Summer 2022) October 1, 2020 March 2, 2021* 2019

Confidentiality

Information provided on the CADAA is not provided to the federal government nor is it checked against any federal databases. CADA information is protected by privacy and information security laws. CADA students will be required to submit parental income and asset information. The demographic information students provide on the CADAA typically overlaps with information students have already given to their high schools.

Eligibility

You can get AB 540 status if you:

  1. Meet one of the following high school requirements:
    • Attended a California high school for at least three years
    • Took the equivalent of at least three years of credits from a California high school and attended at least three full years at California K-12 schools
  2. Graduated from a California high school, got a GED, or passed the California High School Proficiency Exam
  3. Are enrolled at a California community college
  4. Have filed (or will file when you are eligible) for legal immigration status, if applicable

How to Apply for Nonresident Tuition Exemption and Financial Aid

Step 1: Submit the Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request

If you meet the AB 540 requirements, then submit the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request (PDF) to Admissions & Records. You will still be classified as a nonresident, even if you are exempted from paying nonresident tuition.

Step 2: Submit the California Dream Act Application

You only need to submit a single California Dream Act Application (CADAA) each academic year to be considered for financial aid programs that require the CADAA.

Academic year CADAA Available Deadline to submit CADAA Tax filing year
2019-2020 (Fall 2019, Spring 2020, and Summer 2020) October 1, 2018 March 2, 2019* 2017
2020-2021 (Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021) October 1, 2019 March 2, 2020* 2018
2021-2022 (Fall 2021, Spring 2022, and Summer 2022) October 1, 2020 March 2, 2021* 2019

Confidentiality

Information provided on the CADAA is not provided to the federal government nor is it checked against any federal databases. CADA information is protected by privacy and information security laws. CADA students will be required to submit parental income and asset information. The demographic information students provide on the CADAA typically overlaps with information students have already given to their high schools.

Admissions Tips

Get help with admissions, including application and registration. Visit the Connect Center inside the Welcome and Support Center building.