Assembly Bill 540 is a law that was passed in 2001 by the California legislature and was amended with Assembly Bill 2000 in 2015. The laws were written for students who are either undocumented or U.S. Citizens/Permanent Residents but are considered ‘non-residents for tuition purposes.’ If these students meet specific requirements, such as attending a CA public institution of higher learning, they are able to pay ‘resident fees’ instead of ‘non-resident fees.’
AB 540/AB 2000 Eligibility Criteria
To qualify to pay ‘resident fees,’ students must meet the following requirements:
- Attend a California high school for a minimum of 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
- Graduate from a California high school and pass the California High School Proficiency Exam OR get a GED (General Equivalency Diploma or Graduate from a California high school or the equivalent (for example: pass the California High School Proficiency Exam OR GED); AND
- Enroll in an accredited California institution of higher education (CCC, CSU, or UC)
- File a “Non-Resident Tuition Exemption” Affidavit with the school.
Important Information about the Affidavit
AB 540 forms are worded in a way so as to protect undocumented students from having to declare their status. Undocumented students, including DACA recipients, are grouped with US Citizens and Permanent Residents.
In the case of students without legal immigration status, they must state that they have filed or will file an application to legalize their immigration status as soon as they are eligible to do so.
AB 540 and Citizenship Status
As stated above, US Citizens/Permanent Residents can also be considered non-residents for tuition purposes. This can occur when the student’s residency status is determined by the residency status of a parent or legal guardian. Typically, this applies to students who are under the age of 19 or even students who are over 19, but are still financially dependent on a parent or legal guardian.
AB 540 and Residency Status
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.
AB 540 Rights & Privacy
Regardless of immigration status, students can apply for admission to a public college or university in California. The law allows students the following rights under AB 540 legislation:
- Public colleges and universities in California cannot discriminate a student’s admission based on a student's immigration status.
- Students are not required to show an ID or Social Security Card for admission purposes.
For further questions regarding how residency status affects tuition, please review E4FC’s Know the Rules Regarding CA Residency for Tuition Purposes.