Financial Aid Information for DREAMERS

Financial Aid Information for Undocumented Students

If you are an undocumented student and you live in California, the following financial aid opportunities are likely to apply to you.

California In-State Tuition


AB 540

Since October 2001, California has extended the benefit of in-state tuition (only at public colleges and universities in California) to undocumented students who have attended at least three years of high school in the state.

Basic AB 540 requirements:
  1. You have attended a high school (public or private) in California for three years (six semesters) or more.
  2. You have graduated from a California high school, or obtained a GED.
  3. You must file an AB 540 PDFaffidavit (also known as the California nonresident Tuition Exemption Form) with your college or university, stating that you have or you will file an application to legalize as soon as you are eligible to do so.
How to apply for AB 540:

Complete the affidavit form (under #3 above) to request an exemption from Non-resident tuition. You must submit any documentation required by the college or univeristy (for example, proof of high school attendance in California).Contact the California Community College, University of California, California State University campus or any other university where you intend to enroll (or are enrolled) for instructions on documentation, addtional procedures and applicable deadlines.

Further instructions on applying for AB 540 status can be found on the Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) website at


Financial Aid for College


The California Dream Act

The California Dream Act is the name given to Assembly bills 130 & 131 which allow some undocumented students to apply for and receive state-based financial aid and institutional scholarships.

AB 130:

Assembly Bill 130 is the California state law that gives colleges and universities the discretion to award institutional scholarships to undocumented students who qualify for Assembly Bill 540 (check AB 540 requirements above).This includes schoalrships funded through private donors, alumni contributions and individual departmental efforts. Students must apply and compete for available awards as determined by their respective college or university.

AB 131:

Assembly Bill 131 allows eligible AB 540 students to access state funded financial aid programs (e.g. Cal Grants, State University Grants and Board of Governor's Fee Waivers).

To qualify for the California Dream Act a student must meet the following requirements:

1. Meet AB 540 criteria (see above for requirements)

2. Fall udner one of the following immigrant categories: Undocumented, U-visa, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

3. Must qualify for financial aid programs by demonstrating financial need

4. Must register for Selective Service (males 18-25 years old only)

Chart of Financial Aid Programs Available for Undocumented Students Who Qualify for the Callfornia Dream Act
Financial Aid Eligibility Application File by/Deadline
In-State Tuition Yes. UC schools, CSU schools, and California Community Colleges PDFAB 540 Affadavit and AB 540 Nonresident tuition exemption Check with respective school
Cal Grants Yes. UC schools, CSU schools, and California Community Colleges New WindowCalifornia DREAM Act application & GPA verification File between Jan. 1st and March 2nd every year.
Private Scholarships Depends on Eligibility Requirements


E4FC Scholarship Lists and Guides

Varies. Applications are due throughout the year.
Institutional Scholarships Yes. Availability of scholarships at UC, CSU, CCC and private schools varies. Varies. Check with each respective school Varies. Applications are due throughout the year.
UC Grants Yes. At University of California campuses New WindowCalifornia DREAM Act Application File between Jan. 1st and March 2nd every year.
CSU Grants Yes. At California State University campuses New WindowCalifornia DREAM Act Application File between Jan. 1st and March 2nd every year.
Board of Governors (BOG) Waiver Yes. At California Community Colleges. New WindowCalifornai DREAM Act Application or New WindowBOG Application, check with respective CCC Rolling. Check with respective CCC
Extended Opportunity and Services Program (EOPS) Yes. At California Community Colleges. Check with respective CCC Check with respective CCC
Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Yes. At CSU and UC campuses. Check with respective CSU or UC campus. Check with respective CSU or UC campus.
Chafee Foster Youth Grants Yes. All Title IV eligible schools in CA and elsewhere. New WindowCheck requirements on California's Chaffee website. Rolling. Funds are limited and are awarded based on priorities.
Federal Government Loans No N/A N/A
Private Loans Yes, but need legal resident co-signer Check with respective financial institution Check with respective financial institution
Federal Government Grants No N/A N/A
Work-study No N/A N/A
Employment Wages Yes, but must obtain work permit via the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. View the DACA Toolkit for more information. Rolliing. Application process varies by applicant.

For a chart of benefits for undocumented students related to other categories outside of financial aid, view Educators for Fair Consideration's (E4FC) Benefits Comparison Chart.

Tips for filling out the California Dream Act Application:
  1. If you have a Social Security Number (SSN) through Deferred Action, you should fill out the California Dream Act Application, NOT the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You will still be eligible for state aid.
  2. Selective Services Registration: Even though undocumented males are not eligible to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, males who are 18-25 years of age must be registered with Selective Services to be eligible for state student aid. All male students can register at their local post office by filling out and mailing a Selective Services postcard. Even if you are undocumented, you must register to be eligible. No SSN required.
  3. It is important to file the California DREAM Act Application as early as possible. Filling out the application New Windowonline is the fastest and easiest way to submit the application. When you create an account make sure to write down your password and PIN so you can return to the application.
Information/Documents needed to fill out the DREAM Act application
  1. W-2 forms and other 2014 records of income (if your parents have any)
  2. 2014 income tax returns (if your parents have any)
  3. Records of child support paid or received (if applicable)
  4. Records of student scholarships and fellowships included in your/your parents' taxes
  5. Current bank statements (if applicable)
  6. Current business records if over 100 employees and/or farm records (if applicable)


Each college or university will implement the benefits of the California DREAM Act differently. It is up to you to be proactive, ask questions, and be constantly in touch with the financial aid office at your college or university in order to be informed about the financial aid you qualify for and learn how to apply for different types of aid.

For more detailed information on these laws, consult Education for Fair Consideration's (E4FC) California Dream Act resources page directly.

Guide for Undocumented Students in the United States

Please view the following guide for more information regarding resources for undocumented students living in the United States (not just from California): U.S. Department  of Education Resources Guide for Undocumented Students.

This guide provides the following helpful information for undocumented students:

  • Information on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy (page 5)
  • More links to resources to help students navigate college, financial aid and other relevant policies (pages 23-26)
  • Information on students outside of Calfiornia who provide financial aid opportunities for undocumented students (pages 27-33).


Citizenship Status: Only AB 540 eligible students who cannot fill out the FAFSA must choose the thrid option: "non-citizen or eligible non-citizen".

Dislocated Worker: Anyone who lost a job or had a reduction of hours due to the economic downturn.

Household Size: This should include every member of the immediate family who receives more than 50% of his/her financial support from a dependent student's parents or from an independent student. Spouses may be counted. So, if your siblings receive more than 50% of their money or other kind of support from your parents, they would be counted.

Income Verification: A percentage of the students will be selected by their college or university to verify their family income. If you or your parents meet income guidelines to submit taxes, you might be required to present IRS transcripts.

Individual Taxpayer Identification: An individual Taxpayer Identification Number (or ITIN) is a United States tax processing number. It is 9 digits and begins with 9 and has a 7 or 8 as the fourth digit. The IRS issues ITIN's to individuals who are required to have a taxpayer identification number but do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security Number (SSN).