What is the California Dream Act?
Learn more about how the Dream Act can help you
The California Dream Act is the name given to Assembly Bills 130 and 131, which allow some undocumented students to apply for and receive state-based financial aid and institutional scholarships.
AB 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. This includes scholarships 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. This bill went into effect as of January 1, 2012.
AB 131 is the California state law that enables undocumented students who qualify for Assembly Bill 540 to receive state-based financial aid such as Cal Grants, State University Grants and Board of Governor’s Fee Waivers. This bill went into effect as of January 1, 2013.
What are the criteria for qualifying for AB540 assistance?
- You are not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
- You must have attended a California high school for at least 3 years.
- You must have graduated from a California high school or attained a suitable equivalent (GED or CAHS Proficiency exam).
- You are entering as a current student at or are currently enrolled at a California Community College.
- You must have filed for legal immigration status or will file as soon as possible. It is a legal requirement that you file an affidavit with Admissions & Records.
Are all AB540 students undocumented immigrants?
No. Citizens and permanent residents who would otherwise be classified as residents of other states who meet AB540 criteria can qualify as California residents for tuition purposes and any financial aid benefits.
I meet the AB540 criteria. What financial aid programs can I apply for?
You can qualify for a California College Promise Grant that will pay for your classes if you meet all other criteria. You may also qualify for a Cal Grant by applying for the California Dream Application.
Federal financial aid is not available for Dream Act recipients.
How do I apply for these programs?
- There are several ways to apply for a California College Promise Grant if you are undocumented. If you qualify for the grant, it means your enrollment fees will be paid for the subsequent semesters.
- The California Dream Act Application is available online at the California Dream Act website. Once you complete the application, the results will be automatically sent to the college and award you the Fee Waiver if you qualify.
- AB540 students who have a Social Security Number and meet the citizenship requirements can submit a FAFSA application or a standard California College Promise Grant. You must be a US Citizen, permanent resident or on a special visa to qualify.
- To apply for the Cal Grant, complete a California Dream Act Application. which will be used in consideration for the California College Promise Grant.