What is AB540?
Authored by the late Assembly Member Marco Antonio Firebaugh and signed into law in 2001, California Assembly Bill (AB) 540 allows qualifying out-of-state students regardless of immigration status to pay in-state tuition at public colleges in California.
Who is eligible for AB540?
Students (including undocumented students) and those who have been granted a T or U visa status who, for various reasons, are classified as nonresidents may be eligible. They must fulfill the requirements outlined in this page.
As an undocumented student, why should I apply to AB540?
By law, CA community colleges and universities charge out-of-state tuition fees that are higher than in-state tuition fees. Undocumented students are classified as out-of state students and therefore charged out-of-state fees. Fullerton College, for example, charges out-of state tuition fees approximately 7 times higher than in-state tuition fees.
However, if eligible, applying to AB540 provides undocumented students with the ability to pay instate tuition fees and apply for state-based financial aid such as the CA Dream Act. AB 540 also allows eligible students to (1) participate in EOP&S and EOP at the CCC, CSU & UC and (2) receive the admissions application fee waiver at the CSU & UC.
What are the eligibility requirements for AB540?
- Attend a California high school for three or more years.
- Graduate (or will graduate) from a California high school in or the equivalent (a High School Equivalency Certificate issued by the California State GED Office or a Certificate of Proficiency resulting from the California High School Proficiency Examination are considered equivalent to high school graduation).
- Registered at or are currently enrolled in an accredited institution of higher education in California.
- Sign and file a Nonresident Tuition Exemption Form (AB540 Affadivit) with the admissions and records office, which states that you meet all the requirements to qualify for AB 540 status and, if you are undocumented, are in the process of adjusting your immigration status (or will do so as soon as you are eligible).
How do I apply for AB540 at Fullerton College?
- Apply to attend Fullerton College.
- Read through the AB540/AB2000/SB68 requirements and find how you can qualify for AB540. You can also use the Immigrants Rising Confidential In-State Tuition Tool to see if you qualify. If you are still having trouble understanding if you qualify for AB540, feel free to book an appointment with Grads to Be staff via (714) 992 – 7105 and we can provide more guidance.
- If you do not need further assistance in completing this process you can download the AB540 form from the Admissions and Records Office Website, fill it out, and email the form along with official academic documents (High School Transcript copies, Diplomas, Certifications, other documented etc.) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Once you’re granted AB540 status you DO NOT need to submit this form every year, as long as you have continuous enrollment at Fullerton College. Moreover, you will have to apply to AB540 once you transfer and get admitted into a 4 year university and repeat this whole process.
AB540 Frequently Asked Questions
What type of financial aid do AB 540 students qualify for?
AB 540 students are eligible to apply for the California Dream Act Application (CADAA). CADAA allows undocumented and nonresident students to receive certain types of financial aid such as: private scholarships funded through public universities, state administered financial aid, university grants, community college fee waivers, and Cal Grants. Learn more about CADAA here.
What colleges or universities are available for AB 540 students?
AB 540 students can apply to any community college, four-year university, private university or vocational school. However, public and private institutions offer financial aid and scholarships based on different criteria.
Who is NOT eligible for AB540?
Students in possession of nonimmigrant visas (including, but not limited to any of the following visas: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T*, TN/TD, TWOV, U* and NATO) are not eligible for this exemption.
*Except for holders of T and U visas: UC policy permits T and U visa holders with approved I-485 applications who meet the requirements described above to be exempt from nonresident supplemental tuition until they are eligible to establish California residency according to UC policy.
DACA students who do not meet the AB 540 tuition requirements listed above will not be eligible for the exemption.
Where can I get the AB 540 Affidavit? (AKA Non-Resident Tution Exemption Request)
The affidavit can be found at Admissions & Records. You must use the form provided by Fullerton College.
Is the AB 540 affidavit confidential?
Yes, the information provided in the AB 540 affidavit is confidential and will not be shared with ICE or USCIS under California law.
Does the AB 540 law change a student’s immigration status?
No, the AB 540 law only waives a student from paying non-resident tuition prices.
What is AB2000?
Authored by the late Assembly Member Jimmy Gomez, AB2000, became law in 2014. This bill expands eligibility requirements for AB540 to include elementary and middle school years within the 3 year of CA schooling requirement.
What is SB68?
Authored by the CA State Senator Ricardo Lara, Senate Bill (SB) 68 became law in 2018. This state law expands eligibility requirements for AB540/AB2000 for the CA schooling requirement to include community college years and noncredit adult school course credits where 420 hours is equal to one year of CA schooling. It also expanded the CA schooling graduation requirement with the following options:
- Graduation from a CA high school,
- Attainment of a A.A/A.S at a CA Community College or
- Fulfilling the minimum transfer requirements to transfer to a UC or CSU.
- Students who paid nonresident tuition after January 1, 2018 who are eligible for SB 68 & AB 343 are eligible for refunds.
- For high school students taking community college courses/prep, it is up to the community college district to allow them or not to be exempted from paying nonresident tuition
- Continuation school, charter school and homeschooling still qualifies students
Other resources regarding undocumented and AB540 students
- Undocumented Student Overview
- Quick Guide College Access to Undocumented Students
- Submitting the AB540/AB2000/SB68 Affidavit
- SB68 Fact Sheet and SB68 Guide
- Understanding the Differences In-State Tuition/CA Dream Act/DACA
- Immigrants Rising In-State Tuition Tool
- CA Residency for Tuition Purposes
- Mixed Status Household: How to Apply for In-State Tuition and Financial Aid
Other states that offer in-state tuition for undocumented students
Need help filling out your AB 540 form?