What Is AB540?

Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540) is a law that was passed in 2001 by the California legislature and was amended with both Assembly Bill 2000 (AB 2000) in 2014 and Senate Bill 68 (SB 68) in 2017. The laws were written for students who are either Undocumented, U.S. Citizens, or 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.

To qualify for AB 540 status and pay resident fees, students must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Attend a California high school for a minimum of three or more years
  • Attend a California elementary, middle, and/or high school for a combination of three or more years
  • Attend or attain credits at a California high school adult school, and/or California Community College for a combination of three or more years (only two years maximum of a California Community College can be used)
  • 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)
  • Complete or will complete an Associate’s Degree from a California Community College
  • Complete or will complete the minimum transfer requirements at a California Community College for transfer into the CSU system
  • Enroll in an accredited California institution of higher education (CCC, CSU, or UC)
  • File a Non-Resident Tuition Exemption Affidavit with the school.

The Non-Resident Tuition Exemption Affidavit (AB 540 Form) is worded in a way to protect any Dream students from having to declare their immigration status. Undocumented students, including DACA recipients, are grouped with U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents in qualifying to pay for resident tuition fees.

The Financial Aid Office does NOT handle residency inquiries. When it comes to the processing of AB540 Forms, please contact the Admissions Office directly - Undergraduate or Graduate. They are in charge of the reviewing of these forms. Please submit the document provided in the link down below to their respective offices based on your academic level.

As stated above, U.S. Citizens and 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.

The Non-Resident Tuition Exemption does NOT establish legal residency for immigrant students or for undocumented students who are eligible for the Non-Resident Tuition Exemption. It only exempts students from paying non-resident fees. Undocumented students who have questions about their legal residency should consult an immigration attorney.

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 Immigrants Rising's Know the Rules Regarding CA Residency for Tuition Purposes.