If eligible, students should apply for the California (CA) Dream Act by March 2. Learn what this resource is and if you're eligible for in-state financial aid!
California (CA) Dream Act: This California law allows undocumented students who meet the AB540 eligibility to access state financial aid and institutional aid, such as Cal Grants and California Dream Loans.
CA Dream Act Facts:
- Use this online tool to see if you qualify under AB 540/AB 2000/SB 68.
- The CA Dream Act application is due every year on March 2.
- The CA Dream Act is unrelated to DACA. Students do not need to have to have DACA to qualify for the CA Dream Act.
- The CA Dream Act is not the same as the Federal Dream Act. The Federal Dream Act is a proposed legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. The Federal Dream Act has not been passed in Congress.
AB 540 was passed by the California State Government in 2001. It allows undocumented students who have meet specific criteria to pay in-state tuition at California public universities or colleges, instead of paying out-of-state tuition. Some bylaws of the original bill have been amended to allow a larger number of undocumented students access to financial aid.
Eligibility for AB 540:
- The student has attended an accredited California High School for an equivalent of at least three years.
- The student has graduated or will graduate from a California school with a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Applicants must not hold a valid non-immigrant visa (F, J, H, L, A, B, C, D, E, etc.)*.
If you meet AB 540 criteria, you will need to submit the AB 540 Nonresident Supplemental Tuition Exemption along with official transcripts to the university you will be attending.
If you do not meet AB 540 criteria, use this tool to determine your eligibility under amendments to the original bill (AB 2000 and SB68).
Note: Visit Accepted to UCR: Next Steps for more information about the AB 540 affidavit and financial aid award packages.
UC Gold and Blue Opportunity Plan
Many students believe attending a UC is not realistic because of cost. The UC Gold and Blue Opportunity Plan allows students who qualify to receive additional financial assistance while pursuing undergraduate degrees. If you are eligible for this program, the plan combines all sources of financial aid to cover tuition costs and fees. You do not need to fill out a separate application to qualify for the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan. You will automatically receive the benefits if you qualify.
- Submit a FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application and Cal Grant GPA Verification Form by March 2.
- Be a California resident or have AB 540 status.
- Demonstrate total family income below $80,000 and financial need, as determined for federal need-based aid programs.
- Be in your first four years as a UC undergraduate (first two for transfer students).
- Meet other campus basic requirements for UC grant aid (e.g., be enrolled at least half-time during the academic year, meet campus academic progress standards, not be in default on student loans).
For more information about the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, visit the UC website.
Another financial aid resource for undocumented students are Dream Loans. The DREAM loan program is funded by the state of California and administered through universities. Because loans must be paid back eventually, we advise students to only take out as much as they estimate that they'll need to cover expenses.
What you need to know:
- For the 2022-23 school year, the Dream Loan has a 4.99% interest rate, the same rate as its counterpart the Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan. The interest rate for future loans may be different but will not change for the given school year.
- The maximum loan amount is $4,000 per academic year.
- You do not have to accept the total amount of loans offered, but declining the Dream loans will not increase your grant aid.
- Interest will not accrue on the loan as long as you're enrolled as a student at least part time.
- Once you graduate, or become a part-time student, there is a 6-month "grace period" before loan repayments begin.
Student and Parent Privacy
Students may feel uncomfortable providing detailed information about themselves or their parents because of immigration status. All information collected on the CA Dream Act Application is confidential and will only be used to determine financial aid eligibility.
“The California Student Aid Commission has strict security and confidentiality policies and procedures in place to protect the integrity and confidentiality of student records. The California Student Aid Commission has not now, or in the past, shared any information which would indicate a student's immigration status, either documented or undocumented. The California Student Aid Commission also adheres to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99), a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.”