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San Diego State University


AB 540 FAQs


Q: How do I qualify to pay in-state tuition?

A: In order to qualify for in-state tuition (at a public California college or university) under AB 540 you must have completed 3 years of high school in California and graduated or obtain the equivalent of a high school diploma. You must also complete an AB 540 affidavit (California Non-Resident Tuition Exemption Request Form) at the college/university that you will attend stating that you meet AB 540 eligibility requirements. Each school has different procedures for completing the AB 540 affidavit so contact the admissions/registrars office at the college/university that you will attend and ask about how and when to complete and sumit the AB 540 affidavit.

Or, if you or your family has taken steps to obtain or legalize your status (e.g. permanent resident, asylum, family unity program, etc.), you should consult with the college admissions officer to determine whether you are eligible to establish California residency for tuition purposes.

Q: Is the process for applying to college and university for undocumented students any different when applying under AB 540?

A: For all UC and most CSU, you must apply in November of the year before you wish to begin the following fall. Two sections must be left BLANK:
1.Social Security Number slot should be left BLANK or enter zeros
2.Immigration Status slot should be left BLANK

Everything else should be filled out completely. Additional materials should NOT be sent with the application. Once you have been accepted by the university, you should fill out and send the AB 540 affidavit (California Non-Resident Tuition Exemption Request Form).

For many community colleges, you are required to turn in the AB 540 affidavit when you submit your college application. The section requesting your social security may be left blank or you may enter "please assign an ID number". For immigration status, you may list "AB 540".

Q: Does qualifying for AB 540 allow a student to receive financial aid?

A: Undocumented students are not eligible for state (e.g. BOG Fee Waiver, EOPS and Cal Grant) and federal (e.g. FAFSA, PELL, and SEOG) financial aid. Some colleges may offer financial aid to undocumented students; visit your college's financial aid office to find out. Scholarships are also available. However, if the tuition is granted, it could impact the amount and, possibly type, of financial aid the student might receive.

Q: I pay or have paid out-of-state tuition, but I am now eligible to pay in-state tuition under the new law (AB 540). Will I be able to get a refund?

A: You will not be eligible for a refund if you paid out-of-state tuition for any term before January 1, 2002. You may be eligible for a refund only if you paid out-of-state tuition for any term that begins on or after January 1, 2002. Contact your university or college administration for more information.

Q: Does AB 540 change a student's residence status?

A: NO, AB 540 does not grant residency status; rather it exempts/waives you from paying non-resident tuition. You will continue to be classified as a non-resident.

Q: Is the AB 540 Affidavit confidential?

A: YES, the AB 540 Affidavit will be filed with the college or university you attend, not the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).

Q: Is 9th grade included in the definition of "high school" if it is included as part of middle school?

A: YES, for purposes of eligibilty for the tuition exemption, enrollment in the 9th grade whether at middle school or high school, counts toward the California high school attendance requirement.

Q: Does the high school enrollment have to be at the same school and for three consecutive years?

A: NO, the three years for a student's 9th through 12th grades do not have to be consecutive nor completed at a single California school. For example, if you attended 9th grade at a California middle or high school, left the state to attend 10th grade in another state, and returned to a second qualified California high school to complete 11th and 12th grades, you will have met the requirements of three years of high school attendance in California.

 Q: What does "has graduated from a California high school or has attained the equivalent" mean?

A: In addition to meeting the high school attendence requirement of 3 years a student qualifies for AB 540 if he or she has one of the following:
•A diploma from a California high school; or attend a community college;
•A high school certificate of completion issued by a high school district to students that did not pass the high school exit exam;
•A High School Equivalency Certificate issued by the California State GED office; or
•A Certificate of Proficiency resulting from the California High School Proficiency Examination.

Q: If I am a student who received a high school certificate of completion instead of a regular high school diploma or GED, am I eligible for the exemption from nonresident tuition (AB 540)?

A: YES, provided by Education Code section 68130.5, a student (other than nonimmigrant) who attends high school for three years in California and receives a certificate of completion from California high school is eligible for the exemption from nonresident tuition.

Q: Does it matter how long ago a student graduated from high school?

A: NO, the date of graduation does not affect a student's eligibility for the AB 540 nonresident tuition exemption.

Q: For how long is this student eligible to receive this exemption?

A: There is no cap on the numbers of years a student can receive this exemption. Eligibility continues as long as the student meets the criteria or until the University no longer offers this exemption.

Q: If a student received this exemption while attending a California State University (CSU) or a California Community College (CCC) campus, does he or she need to apply for the exemption at a University of California (UC)?

A: YES. Information about specific student eligibility for this exemption is not shared among the California public higher education systems. A prior CSU or CCC student needs to apply again once he or she is enrolled at a UC. Moreover, a UC determines eligibility for this exemption independently of prior determinations made by other California higher education systems.