California DREAM Act, AB 540 & Other Resources
California Dream Act
The California Dream Act of 2011 allows students who meet AB540 criteria to apply for and receive funds from certain state and institutional financial assistance programs.
What Is the California Dream Act
The California Dream Act of 2011 consists of two bills, Assembly Bill 130 (AB 130), signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on June 25, 2011; and Assembly Bill 131 (AB 131), signed into law by Governor Brown on October 8, 2011.
AB 130 is effective January 2012, and allows students attending a public university who are exempt from paying nonresident tuition under another law, Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540), and who are ineligible for federal financial aid to be eligible to receive privately funded scholarships for attendance.
The second part of the California Dream Act, AB 131, goes into effect January 1, 2013, and allows students who are exempt from paying nonresident tuition under AB50 and who are ineligible for federal financial aid to receive grants and scholarships from state and University sources.
AB 540 Eligibility Requirements
Under AB 540, a student who is without lawful immigration status may request exemption from paying nonresident tuition if the student:
- Attended a California high school for 3 or more years, AND
- Graduated from a California high school or passed the GED or California High School Proficiency Exam.
Students who wish to qualify as AB 540 students must complete and submit a California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request(sometimes referred to as an AB 540 Affidavit) with required documentation to there respective Office of Admission.
What Types of Financial Assistance are Available
The California Dream Act makes certain types of scholarships, state and university grants available to eligible students. The types of awards a student may be eligible for are phased in over a 12 month period between January 1, 2012 and January 1, 2013. Below is a listing of the types of financial aid available to students under the California Dream Act – as well as the effective dates for each.
Scholarships – Effective January 1, 2012
For privately funded scholarships, any citizenship eligibility requirements established by the scholarship donors remain in effect.
AB 130 allows a student who qualifies under AB 540 to apply for scholarships that do not have a residency or citizenship requirement. If the scholarship requires an applicant to demonstrate financial need by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), an alternate process to evaluate financial need for AB 540 students is available. The necessary forms will be offered to AB 540 students who apply for scholarships, meet all other eligibility requirements (such as GPA, class level, etc.), and are identified by the scholarship committee as finalists for a particular scholarship.
Visit your campus scholarship center to search and apply for scholarships for which you meet the eligibility requirements, including those scholarships that require demonstration of financial need.
External AB 540 Scholarships – Effective January 1, 2012
Below is a list of external scholarship opportunities for AB 540 students. Links and information provided to external scholarship organizations, websites, and/or search engines.
- New American Scholars Program
- Education Leadership Foundation
- CHIRLA Scholarships
- Choose Your Future Scholarship Listing
- MALDEF Scholarship List
California State Funded Financial Aid Programs – Effective January 1, 2013
AB 131 allows a student who qualifies under AB 540 to apply for state-funded financial aid programs such as State University Grant (SUG) and Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Grant. These programs have previously been available only to U.S. Citizens or Eligible Non-Citizens, and required an applicant to demonstrate financial need by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
AB 131 has led to the California Student Aid Commission’s (CSAC) development of the Dream Application – an alternative process to filing a FAFSA that has been developed for AB 540 students who want to apply for these state-funded programs (which will be awarded and disbursed during the Spring 2013 Semester). Please note that the Dream Application is an application/process that is facilitated by CSAC.
Cal Grant – Effective January 1, 2013 (for the 2013 – 2014 Academic Year)
For the 2013 – 2013 academic year, AB 131 will allow AB 540 students to apply for the Cal Grant programs in addition to SUG and EOP Grants.
The Application Process
Spring 2013 Funding:
Dream Application: Deadline for priority consideration is May 10, 2012
Beginning April 2, 2012 CSAC’s Dream Application will collect basic personal and income information to determine student eligibility for funding under AB 131. While the application process begins in April 2012, eligible applicants will not receive funding until the Spring 2013 semester (once the law has become effective).
- Apply between April 2 and May 10, 2012 for priority consideration.
- Once you have applied, the campus Office of Financial Aid will receive your application information and will notify you by e-mail regarding the status of your application. Your account on your student account will specify what other information or documents you must submit so that we may determine your eligibility.
- The campus Office of Financial Aid will begin the awarding process in July. Awards will be disbursed in January 2013 – for the Spring 2013 semester.
- Please note that SUG and EOP Awards are based on the availability of funds.
Students will need to complete the Dream Application every year to determine eligibility for state and institutional aid. Students should complete and submit AB540 Affidavit (California Non-Resident Tuition Exemption Request form) in order to begin a review of your eligibility under AB 540.
2013 – 2014 Funding:
Priority Application Filing period is January 1, 2013 – March 2, 2013
The Dream Application for the 2013 – 2014 Academic year will be available beginning January 1, 2013.
Students who wish to apply for the Cal Grant programs in addition to SUG and EOP Grants should apply between during the priority application filing period (January 1 through March 2, 2013).
What does AB 131 do for undocumented students?
This bill allows undocumented students who qualify for AB 540 to participate in state funded financial aid programs:
* AB 131 calls for California’s community colleges to allow students to apply for the Board of Governor’s Fee Waivers, which waive the educational fees of qualifying low-income students. * AB 131 also calls for the establishment of procedures and forms that would enable current AB 540 status holders to apply for, and participate in, other student aid programs administered by California’s public colleges and universities such as institutional aid derived from tuition revenue. *AB 131 calls for the State of California to allow AB-540 status holders to participate in any state-administered financial aid programs such as Cal Grants. However, funds for the Competitive Cal Grants A and B will not be made available to undocumented students unless funding remains available after their California resident counterparts have received theirs. Please check the Cal Grants website for information on the different types of Cal Grants that California administers
How can an undocumented student access funds made available by AB 131?
For institutional-based awards, students must apply and compete for available awards as outlined by their respective college or university. For Cal Grants or other state funded assistance, the California Student Aid Commission has develop a system for applying to aid, given that undocumented students cannot apply for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) in order to determine their income level and need.
For more information and helpful resources, please see:
- CSULB AB 540 Online Resource Guide
- CSAC’s California Dream Act website
- Educators for Fair Consideration
- Scholarships That Don’t Require Social Security Numbers
- Financial Aid and Other Guides for College-Bound Undocumented Students
- Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights Through Education (ASPIRE)
- MALDEF AB 540 Guide