California Dream Act
The California Dream Act extends eligibility for certain types of UC and California financial aid to students, including undocumented students, who qualify for a nonresident tuition exemption under AB 540.
- Undocumented students (AB 540 eligible)
- Nonresident U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens (AB 540 eligible)
As an undocumented student, you may be eligible for state and UC aid, as well as private scholarships. Undocumented students are ineligible for federal aid (including federal loans and grants, and the federal work-study program), but now have the option to borrow student loans through the DREAM Loan Program.
What you need to do
If you think you meet the requirements for an AB 540 nonresident tuition exemption, here's how to make sure you're considered for financial aid:
- 1. Submit your application for admission to UC. When you fill out the application for undergraduate admission, you're automatically considered for a number of UC scholarships.
- 2. File a California Dream Act Application between Jan. 1 and March 2. When you do this, you’ll need to confirm that you’ve registered for the Selective Service (if you’re a male under age 26). If you have a valid Social Security number, you can register online. If not, you'll need to register in-person at any U.S. Post office. For help filling out the California Dream Act Application, download our Dream Act application guide (pdf).
- 3. Make sure your GPA has been submitted for a Cal Grant (in addition to the California Dream Act Application). California community colleges and most California high schools automatically submit students' GPAs for Cal Grants. Check with your school to make sure; if they don't automatically submit your GPA, download the Cal Grant GPA Verification Form and have your school submit it to the California Student Aid Commission.
- 4. Once you've been accepted to a UC campus, submit a Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) at your intended campus.
- 5. After the campus receives your SIR, you'll need to submit a Statement of Legal Residence (SLR) to the campus residence deputy.
- 6. If you then receive a nonresident classification, complete the AB 540 nonresident tuition exemption forms, which you can get at your campus registrar’s office.
If you're an undocumented student and are not eligible for an AB 540 nonresident tuition exemption, you will be ineligible for all federal, state and institutional aid. Private loans and scholarships are the only financial aid options.
Visit Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) for more information specific to undocumented students.
What about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?
DACA entitles students to be employed legally – which makes it much easier for students to find jobs to help cover some of their educational costs.
If you have DACA status, you should not fill out a FAFSA, even if you have a Social Security number. If you’re anticipating being eligible for AB 540, you should still fill out the Cal Dream Act application.
DACA has no effect on eligibility for the AB 540 nonresident tuition exemption or financial aid.
Learn more about DACA at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services »
Nonresident U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens (AB 540 eligible)
If you are a citizen or eligible non-citizen, and meet the requirements for an AB 540 nonresident tuition exemption, you may qualify for state aid, in addition to federal and UC aid.
Follow the steps above, except instead of filing a California Dream Act Application, file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- Visit UC’s undocumented student resource site for programs and services to help you transition to and succeed at UC.
- Find out if you qualify for an AB 540 nonresident tuition exemption.
- See our tips for completing the California Dream Act application (pdf).
Achieving the DREAM
See how Yuriana Aguilar became the first undocumented PhD student to graduate from a UC.