What is AB 540?
AB540 (2001) is a California law that allows eligible non-resident students to be exempt from paying non-resident tuition. Without AB540, some students, including undocumented students, would have to pay the fees normally associated with non-resident students.
At CSUN, that means an additional $372 per unit in fees at the out-of-state rate. This means paying $4,355 for 6 units as an out-of-state student instead of the in-state part-time fee of $2,123; and $8,890 for 12 units as an out-of-state student instead of the in-state full-time rate of $3,272.
AB540 does NOT give anyone residency or legal status. It is only used for tuition purposes in the state of California. AB540 can also apply to Legal Permanent Residents or U.S. Citizens who may be considered non-residents of California; they too can pay in-state tuition if they meet the eligibility criteria of AB540.
For example, a student who finished the last three years of high school in California and graduated from a California high school (or equivalent, e.g. GED), but started their high school in a different state, could qualify under AB 540.
Who Qualifies for AB540?
AB540 applies to:
- Students with a T-Visa or U-Visa.
- U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Oftentimes these will be students who attended all or part of their K-12 education in California but later established residency in another state. Some students in this situation may qualify for AB540.
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients
- Undocumented students
- Do not hold a valid non-immigrant visa (F, J, H, L, A, B, C, D, E, etc.)**
- **If you have Temporary Protected Status or hold a U Visa you may be eligible for the California
To qualify for AB540, you must:
- Have attended a California high school for at least three years;
- Have either:
- graduated (or will graduate) from a high school in California or have passed the General Educational Development (GED) test, or
- earned credits in California equal to three years of high school coursework and completed three or more years at a California elementary, secondary school (or a combination of both); and
- Fill out an AB540 affidavit form, and a CSU Residency Questionnaire.
What Do I Need to Do?
After submitting your AB540 affidavit, you need to submit additional documents. You need to submit:
- Official transcripts from your high school (elementary and middle school if needed) showing that you graduated and that you meet the 3-year requirement. Make sure to check your CSUN email address.
- Do not procrastinate! Make sure to submit all the documents soon after you are admitted to CSUN. Any delays can affect the timeliness of any financial aid received being disbursed.
Males between the ages of 18-26 need to register with the Selective Service System. To register, you can:
- Apply through your California Dream Act application. The application will have an option for you to register if you have not done so already.
- Register through a paper form. You can find the form at any post office, or download the form here.
Mail the form to:
Selective Service System
P.O. Box 94739
Palatine, IL 60094-4739
If you already registered with the Selective Service System, you will have to bring in your registration card to the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department office located in Bayramian Hall.
If you need help with filling out the forms, feel free to stop by the DREAM Center! We’re located in the University Student Union, Building C. You can also reach us through phone at (818) 677-7069 or through email at email@example.com.
California Dream Act
What is the California Dream Act?
The California Dream Act is a series of two bills, AB 130 and 131, that allow AB 540 eligible undocumented students in California to apply for in-state financial aid. AB 130 allows AB540 students to apply for scholarships at California public colleges and universities that are funded from non-state sources, and AB 131 allows for AB540 students to apply for in-state financial aid for public universities and colleges.
In order to apply for financial aid through the CA Dream Act, you must qualify as an AB540 student. To qualify for AB540, you must:
- Have attended a California high school (public or private) for at least three 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
- Have graduated (or will graduate) from a high school in California, or equivalent (e.g. passing the GED test), and;
- Fill out an AB540 affidavit form. The form can be found on the CSUN Admissions and Records website. CSUN students filling out the AB540 affidavit form must also fill out the CSU Residency Questionnaire, which is also on the above link. Both forms need to be completed and turned in to Admissions and Records in Bayramian Hall (BH) 100.
It is important to fill out the AB540 form in addition to applying to the CA Dream Act!
If you have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), apply for the CA Dream Act — do NOT apply to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Social Security Number (SSN) given through DACA is only valid for employment purposes, not for federal financial aid. Having DACA does not make you eligible for federal financial aid through FAFSA.
How do I Apply?
The CA Dream Act application can be found online.The page has three options — one for first-time applicants, one for a parent signature, and one for returning applicants.
First Time Applicants
Select “New California Dream Act Application.” The application starts out with an eligibility quiz to determine if you qualify for the California Dream Act. The application will ask you to make an account to log on to the application in case you want to return to it later or make edits after you’ve submitted it. Make sure to save your account information!
From there, the application will ask you questions about your student life, your dependency, and your family and parents/legal guardians.
- Student — This section asks for information about you as a student, what high school you went to, tax information and college information.
- Dependency — This section asks questions that are used to determine your status as a dependent or independent student.
- Family and Parents — This section asks for your parents’ information, household size, income and and tax information.
The application remains active for 30 minutes, but the clock resets every time you save your changes. The California Dream Act application will show a description of every question on the right hand side, to further explain each section.
If you want to access your application after you’ve started it, you can access it through the “California Dream Act Application Login” section.
If you’ve previously submitted a California Dream Act application, select “California Dream Act Application Login” to access your application. It will ask you the application year that you want to apply to or change. Most information will carry over from previous applications, with some changes for the year you are applying to.
Parent Signature (for dependent students only)
If you are a dependent student, after you fill out the application and submit it, you need to have a parent or guardian review the information and sign it electronically with a parent PIN. This is a requirement only for students who are considered dependent students.
- If your parent hasn’t applied for a parent PIN, they can apply through this page by submitting the requested information.
- If your parent has a parent PIN, they can access the signature page at the top of the confirmation tab.
Once your parent signs electronically, your application is complete. Make sure to keep your parent’s login information in a secure place! For dependent students, every yearly application needs an electronic parent signature via the parent PIN.
The California Student Aid Commission requires that all schools verify the information of a select percentage of financial aid applicants, including California Dream Act applicants. If selected for verification, you must submit all requested documents in order to be considered for aid. View the Financial Aid Verification Guide for assistance with the verification process and explanation of how to find the necessary information.
What Comes Next?
Log back into your application and check under the “Confirmation” section. If there’s anything else you need to take care of it will show up under “Section I — Action Needed” on the page.
Check the email account you provided in the application to check on the status of your California Dream Act application. You should receive an email from CSUN when the university receives your application. Keep checking your MyNorthridge Portal for notifications pertaining to your financial aid application process.
You will also have to create a WebGrants account to determine whether you are eligible for a Cal Grant. If you are a first-time freshman or incoming transfer student, you may be eligible for a Cal Grant. Visit the Cal Grant accounts page.
If you need help filling out your California Dream Act or if you have questions, feel free to stop by the DREAM Center! We’re located in the University Student Union, Building C. You can also reach us through phone at (818) 677-7069 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
What is DACA?
On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.
DACA does NOT give any legal status to those that apply and it does not establish a pathway towards citizenship. It gives temporary protection from deportation procedures, as well as a two-year work permit for those who qualify.
Who Qualifies for DACA?
You may request DACA if you:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Anyone requesting DACA must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. You must also be at least 15 years or older to request DACA.
If you have specific questions about DACA please make a legal services appointment with CARECEN.
Check Your Case Status Online
On December 7, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security issued a DACA Update that stated the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is doing the following:
- Accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under DACA based on the terms of the DACA policy in effect prior to September 5, 2017;
- Accepting DACA renewal requests based on the terms of the DACA policy in effect prior to September 5, 2017;
- Accepting applications for advance parole documents based on the terms of the DACA policy prior to September 5, 2017;
- Extending one-year grants of deferred action under DACA to two years; and
- Extending one-year employment authorization documents under DACA to two years.
For more information, please read the CSU’s DACA Updates page.
DACA Legal Updates Presentation
Watch this helpful virtual presentation from CARECEN to learn important information about the 2020 updates to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This video discusses a variety of topics in depth, including the history of DACA, Supreme Court cases related to the recent DACA updates, eligibility requirements, initial applications, renewals and advance parole.
What Can You Do If You Don’t Qualify for DACA?
Unfortunately, DACA does not benefit all in our undocumented community. Undocumented students without DACA can face additional barriers, but many pathways exist for these students to accomplish their goals and thrive. Check out these resources by Immigrants Rising:
- Other forms of immigration relief exist beyond DACA. You may read more about them in this guide, “Beyond DACA: Immigration Options Every Undocumented Person Should Know”
- To see what you’re eligible for, make an appointment for general consultation with our legal services team.
- Without a work permit obtained from DACA, generating income can be difficult. Many undocumented individuals have found success starting a business and freelancing as an alternative. To learn more about how to start, check out this resource filled with guides and online modules.
Resources for Allies
Know Your Rights
Faculty and Staff Resources
National Immigration Law Center (NILC)
Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Los Angeles)
CSUN Dreamers Scholarship
CSUN has resources available for undocumented students as well. In 2014, CSUN opened up a scholarship fund for undocumented students on campus. The CSUN Dreamers Scholarship has three different award categories:
- $2,500 for qualifying students enrolled in 12 or more units. Students can apply for this category for up to 4 years.
- $1,250 for qualifying students enrolled in 6-11 more units. Students can apply for this category for up to 4 years.
- $12,500 towards the cost of living on campus. This category is open to 10 full-time students, and students can only apply for this category once while at CSUN.
- Student must have an approved California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request (AB 540 Affidavit) on file with the University. More information on this process.
- Student must have a completed CA Dream Act Application on file for the award year being applied for.
- Must be a matriculated undergraduate student in an eligible program
- Must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5
- Must be enrolled in at least 6 units for half-time award
- Must be enrolled in at least 12 units for the full-time and Student Housing awards
The scholarship opens up every year. To check if the scholarship is currently available, sign up with the CSUN Scholarship database.
Other Funding Resources
There are many resources available to fund your education, both within CSUN and outside of campus.
- Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) has an extensive list of scholarships and guides on how to apply! Their page has guides on how to prepare to look for and seek out scholarships, what you need to apply, and lists of scholarships for both undergraduate and graduate students. Find more information.
- Mydocumentedlife.org continues to expand their list of featured scholarships. Be sure to check their page regularly.
- Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) Scholarship List
- ScholarshipsAZ has a list of scholarships for undocumented students, sorted out by the month that they’re due.
- Hispanic Scholarship Fund
- Paying for College: Student Resource Guide 2016–2017 from the office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard
- Dreamers’ Roadmap is an app that connects undocumented students to scholarships available depending on major, region and more. You can find the app in the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
Direct immigration legal services are available free of charge to CSU Northridge students, faculty, staff and immediate family. An immigration attorney is onsite on a weekly basis for general immigration related consultations. The legal services provided focus primarily on DACA renewals and general assistance in filling out immigration forms, such as family-based petitions.
Funding for the services is provided by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) in collaboration with the CSU Chancellor's Office. Legal services are provided by the Central American Resource Center of Los Angeles (CARECEN).
Founded in 1983, CARECEN, is the largest Central American immigrant rights organization in the country; it empowers Central Americans and all immigrants by defending human and civil rights, working for social and economic justice, and promoting cultural diversity.
CARECEN services at the DREAM Center are only available for current CSU-affiliated individuals (student, staff, faculty) and their immediate family (spouse, parents, siblings and children).
For information about community legal services for non-CSU affiliated individuals or extended relatives, visit the California Department of Social Services Immigration Services webpage.
Student Legal Support Clinic
The Student Legal Support Clinic is a unique collaboration between CSUN, Associated Students and Southwestern Law School’s Community Lawyering Clinic that offers a variety of immigration legal services for CSUN Students. The services available to you include consultations, information about legal rights, referrals to reputable pro-bono or low-cost legal services and legal empowerment workshops. For guidance and services related to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Adjustment of Status, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), Violence against Women Act (VAWA), U visa, Naturalization Services and more, you can make an appointment with the Student Legal Support Clinic.