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Financial Aid

CA Dream Act Application and How to Apply

What is a California Dream Act Application?

The California Dream Act Application is used to determine the California state financial eligibility of students who meet the qualifications of Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540).

  • The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) will process this application.
  • Any aid received can only be used at eligible California institutions.

What is AB540?

AB540 was passed in 2001 to allow AB540 eligible students in California to pay the lower resident fees at California's public colleges and universities.

In October 2011, AB131 was signed into law to allow students eligible for AB540 to also start applying the 2012-2013 year for state financial aid like University of California Grants, State University Grants and Board of Governor's fee waiver.

Effective January 2013, students can apply for Cal Grants.

Do You Meet the AB540 Criteria?

If one or more of the following statements is applicable to you, you will be considered as one meeting the AB540 criteria.

  • Attend high school in California for at least three full years. The three years do not have to be consecutive.
  • Earn a high school diploma, General Educational Development (GED) certificate or pass the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE).
  • Enroll or be accepted for enrollment in an eligible program as a regular student seeking a degree or certificate.
  • If you are without lawful immigration status, you will have to file an affidavit with the college or university you are attending stating that you have filed an application to legalize your immigration status, or that you will file an application as soon as you are eligible to do so.

What is AB 130 and 131?

AB 130 allows students who meet AB 540 criteria to apply for and receive non-state funded scholarships for public colleges and universities.

AB 131 allows students who meet AB 540 criteria to apply for and receive state-funded financial aid such as institutional grants, community college fee waivers, Cal Grant and Chafee Grant.

To be eligible to apply for Cal Grant, please be sure to complete the CA Dream Application by March 2nd deadline.


Who should submit a California Dream Act Application?

Students should file either the FAFSA or the Dream Act Application, not both.

Students who have a Social Security card with words "Valid For Work Only With DHS Authorization" or "Not Valid For Employment" should complete the Dream Act Application.

Students who received their Social Security Number through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA); please complete a CA Dream Application.

The Dream Act Application is not an application for federal financial aid.

  • Students who have a permanent Social Security Number must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • This will assure that the applicant is considered for both federal and state assistance.
  • The FAFSA application is located on-line at www.fafsa.gov.

How to complete the Dream Act application

  1. Online at https://dream.csac.ca.gov/

Additional AB540 Resources

Q. Who should submit a California Dream Act Application?

  • Students who have a Social Security card with words "Valid For Work Only With DHS Authorization" or "Not Valid For Employment" should complete the Dream Act Application.
  • Students who received their Social Security Number through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA); please complete a CA Dream Application.
  • The Dream Act Application is not an application for federal financial aid. Students who have a permanent Social Security Number must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will assure that the applicant is considered for both federal and state assistance. The FAFSA application is located on-line at www.fafsa.gov.
  • Students should file either the FAFSA or the Dream Act Application, not both.

Q. What will AB 131 do?

AB 131 allows all students who qualify for AB 540 nonresident tuition exemptions, including those who are undocumented, to apply for Cal Grant awards and for grants and scholarships awarded by California public colleges and universities. This new law took effect on January 1, 2013 with respect to UC institutional aid Fall term of the 2013-14 school year with respect to Cal Grants.

Q. How is it different from AB 130?

AB 130 allows these students to apply only for grants and scholarships funded from private sources. AB 131 will have a more meaningful impact on these students because it makes them eligible for Cal Grants and for college grants and scholarships from other fund sources, too. AB 130 took effect on January 1, 2012, while AB 131 took effect on January 1, 2013.

Q. Why do California colleges support AB 131?

California colleges believe that students who attended and graduated from high school in California, but are not legal residents, should have access to higher education. These students are highly motivated to succeed despite the obstacles they face. Through their hard work and perseverance, they have met the academic standards required to attend college. Their accomplishments should not be disregarded or their future jeopardized because of their immigration status. By allowing AB 540 students to apply for and receive financial aid from California colleges, these bills help place these students on a more equal footing with other needy students and would enhance their access to college.

Q. How many students will benefit under AB 131?

Colleges estimate that about 800 undergraduates who will qualify Cal Grant entitlement awards worth about $7 million. Among these students who are newly-eligible for Cal Grants, colleges estimates that about 300 are undocumented and 500 are documented. Colleges estimate that about 440 undocumented undergraduates will qualify for roughly $4.3 million in college grants and scholarships. These are rough estimates only, however, because colleges do not currently collect information about the income or other financial resources of undocumented students.

Q. Will expanding aid to undocumented students result in less aid for documented students?

Cal Grants received by undocumented students will not reduce the number or amount of Cal Grant awards available for other students. For California college grants and scholarships, the impact on other students will be negligible because undocumented students represent a tiny fraction of the student body. (Colleges estimate that fewer than one-half of one percent of its students are undocumented.)

Q. Where will funding for California college awards come from?

Colleges' financial aid programs are primarily funded from tuition revenue. Colleges set aside about 30 percent of undergraduate tuition revenue for financial aid. Undocumented students pay into this pool but have been prevented from receiving any assistance from it. Under AB 131, eligible undocumented students with financial need can apply for aid.

Q. How will undocumented students apply for Cal Grants and college financial aid?

California colleges will work with the California Student Aid Commission and other segments to develop the forms and processes used to determine whether eligible undocumented students qualify for Cal Grants and institutional aid.

Q. Does AB 131 affect all undocumented students?

No. AB 131 affects only students who are exempt from paying nonresident tuition under AB 540. To qualify, students must have attended a California high school for at least three years and graduated from a California high school. In addition, undocumented students must attest that they have filed an application to legalize their immigration status, or will file an application as soon as they are eligible to do so.

CA Dream Act Application

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