AB 540 Frequently Asked Questions for Undocumented Students


Q: What is AB540?

  • October 12, 2001—Governor signs bill allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition fees, when meeting the given requirements
  • January 2002—law takes effect for the California Community Colleges and California State University systems as Education Code §68130.5
  • January 24, 2002—UC Board of Regents vote to adopt AB 540
  • Provides support for some unprotected immigrant students who
  1. Came to US at an early age
  2. Raised in US
  3. Often do not find out until high school graduation that they are undocumented
  • Some umprotected Immigrant students are not covered by AB540 because of the requirements

Q: What is non-immigrant status?

  • Current nonimmigrant visa holders are not eligible for this tuition exemption [Tourist (F visa) or student (B visa)]
  • Some expired visa holders who are “out of status”, may be eligible for AB 540 if they meet the requirements
  • Students categorized as AB 540 will not be classified as California residents

Q: What is the affidavit?

  • The affidavit is required by each of the colleges where the student will be attending
  • The affidavit states that the student will adjust their status, as soon as they are eligible to do so
  • Students are not required to submit a new affidavit when there is continuous enrollment. 
Continuous enrollment, also known as continuous attendance, begins when a student has graduated from high school and enrolls in any California Community College (CCC) or California State University (CSU).  Students maintain continuous enrollment and their catalog rights as long as they remain officially enrolled in at least one semester or two quarters during a calendar year (January through December), regardless of the number of units completed.
  • The information on the affidavit is kept confidential, as required by law. Immigration has no access to student information

Q: What does it mean to be undocumented?

  • If you are not a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident and do not currently possess a green card, visa, or other legal documentation, you are considered an undocumented 
immigrant.

Q: If I am undocumented and interested in applying for residency, what should I 
do?

  • In order to find out if you are eligible to apply for legal permanent residency, contact 
a licensed immigration attorney. DO NOT give your money to a “notario.” In the U.S., a 
notario is not an attorney and cannot help you establish residency.

Q: If I am undocumented, can I go to college?

  • YES. Undocumented students can go to any college or university in California if 
they meet admissions requirements.

Q: If I am undocumented, can I apply for financial aid?

  • Undocumented students are not eligible for state or federal financial aid, all of which require completion of a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Q: Where can I go to find out about scholarships for undocumented students?

  • Check with the Fresno State Scholarship Office to see if we offer institutional scholarships to undocumented students; then go to the MALDEF website www.maldef.org to find a list of scholarships that do not require you to be a US citizen, legal permanent resident, and do not ask for a social security number.

Q: How do I qualify to pay in-state tuition?

  • In order to qualify for in-state tuition under AB 540, you must have completed 3 years 
of high school in California and graduate. You must also complete an AB 540 affidavit 
at the college/university that you will attend, stating that you meet AB 540 eligibility 
requirements.

Q: Do I need to be in the legalization process to qualify for AB 540?

  • NO, both students that are already in the process and those that are not yet in the 
process qualify for AB 540. But remember that the affidavit that students sign says that 
they will start the process as soon as they are eligible to do so.

Q: Can I utilize AB 540 at a private university or technical college like USC, 
Stanford, Heald College, Bryman College, etc?

  • NO, AB 540 is utilized only by the PUBLIC community colleges and universities in 
California (CSU/UC), therefore students attending a private institution may be charged 
the non-resident tuition.

Q: Do adult school students qualify for AB 540?

  • Students who have completed 3 years of adult school or finished their GED through 
an adult school MAY qualify for AB 540 if the community college they wish to attend 
considers it equivalent to high school. Check with a representative at your college who is 
knowledgeable about AB 540 to find out about your college’s requirements.

Q: What is the process for applying to college and the university for immigrant 
students?

  • Students should speak with a college/university representative to receive accurate 
information about the specific campus. For all UC and most CSU, the student must apply 
in November of the year before they wish to begin. Two sections must be left blank:
  1. Social Security Number Slot Should be Left BLANK
  2. Immigration Status Slot Should be Left BLANK

Everything else should be filled out completely and truthfully. Students should contact aUC representative for specific instructions for completing the UC application as these 
change from year to year. Additional materials should NOT be sent with the application. 
Once the student is accepted by the university, then they should fill out and send the AB 540 affidavit. For community colleges, the student must turn in the AB 540 affidavit the 
when they register for classes.

Q: What happens if I have already given the school a false SS# or stated citizenship?

  • Students who qualify for AB 540 but have falsified information in the past will have 
to address this issue with the CIS when they apply for LPR. At the school, they should 
meet with a counselor they trust and change their classification to AB 540. Some 
campuses penalize the student financially so the student needs to work with a trusted 
counselor. If transferring from a CC to a CSU or UC, the student should apply under AB 
540 even if at the CC they falsified information.

Resource Links

AB 540 Resource Guide
Living in the United States: A Guide for Immigrant Youth
Advising Training Manual
Documenting Undocumented Students: Higher Education, Legitimizing Space & Contested Citizenship
An Overview of College-Bound Undocumented Students

Near Future

Immigration and Dream Act Information
California Dream Act