FAQ

Undocumented Student FAQs

Can Undocumented Students Go to College?

  • YES! Undocumented students can go to any public college or university in California, if they meet the admissions requirements and are accepted.  This applies to freshman and transfer admits.
  • Students can pay in-state tuition at California state schools (CCC, CSU, UC) if they meet the criteria for state law AB-540.
  • Many UC and CSU campuses have undocumented student resource centers and programs to help support students.  For UC campuses, visit here. For CSU campuses, visit here.

 

What is AB-540? 

CA Assembly Bill AB-540 is a California law passed in 2001 which states that undocumented students who meet certain requirements can qualify for in-state tuition at California public colleges and universities (includes Community Colleges, CSUs and UCs).  In 2014, Assembly Bill AB-2000 was passed, expanding the definition to allow additional flexibility for who can meet the requirements.  This is very important because otherwise undocumented students would pay international student tuition, which is over three times the cost, putting college out of reach for most students.

 

Who qualifies for AB-540/AB-2000?

In order to qualify for AB-540/AB-2000 status in California, the student must meet the following requirements:

  1. A) attended a high school (public or private) in California for three or more years,

OR

  1. B) 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
  1. The student must have graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent prior to the start of the term (for example, passing the GED or California High School Proficiency exam), and
  1. The student must file an affidavit with the college or university stating that he or she has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file an application as soon as he or she is eligible to do so.

The Chabot College Affidavit Form (CA Non-Resident Tuition Exemption Form – AB-540) can be found here:

 

AB-2000 also expanded the definition to include students who have been granted T or U visa status.  Please note, students who are nonimmigrants, other than those with T or U visa status as noted above, [for example, those who hold F (student) visas, B (visitor) visas, etc.] are NOT eligible for this exemption.

Please note, AB-540 does NOT establish legal residency for immigrant students or for undocumented students who are eligible for AB-540. It only exempts students from paying non-resident fees. Undocumented students who have questions about their legal residency should consult an immigration attorney.

 

Is My Information Private?

The information a student shares with a college or university is protected by federal law and CANNOT be shared with anyone, including immigration officials, without a judicial warrant, subpoena or court order, unless authorized by the student or required by law.  Student information is protected by the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. The school legally cannot share this information with third parties including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Also, not all AB-540 students are undocumented. Many are legal residents. AB-540 forms are worded in a way so as to protect undocumented students from having to declare their status (they are grouped with US citizens and permanent residents). The affidavit says “IF” they are an “alien without lawful immigration status,” then they will pursue a means to change their immigration status when it becomes available.

 

Can AB-540 eligible students qualify for financial aid?

YES! In 2011, the CA Dream Act (AB130/AB131) was passed, granting undocumented students who meet the requirements for AB-540, access to private and CA state-funded financial aid such as institutional grants, community college Board of Governor’s (BOG) fee waiver, Cal Grant and Chafee Grant.  At Chabot College, undocumented AB-540 eligible students can also now qualify for state funded special programs like Puente and EOPS.  Under CA Senate Bill 1210, the UC and CSU systems are in the process of creating a DREAM loan program for qualifying students starting in the 2015-2016 academic year.

Undocumented AB-540 eligible students (including many DACA recipients) fill out the CA Dream Act Application to apply for financial aid.  Undocumented AB-540 eligible students still DO NOT qualify for federal financial aid (including Federal Student & Parent Loans, Pell Grants and Work Study) and therefore DO NOT fill out the FAFSA.  U Visa holders also fill out the CA Dream Act Application instead of the FAFSA.  To learn more about who can apply and what types of aid are available, please visit the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) website.

Undocumented AB-540 eligible students can apply online for financial aid through the CA Dream Act Application.

The Chabot College Financial Aid website is also a good resource for students filling out the CA Dream Act Application.  On the Chabot College website, go to “Financial Aid” and select “Dream Act” or click here.

 

Are there scholarships available for undocumented students? 

YES! There are many scholarships available that do not require you to be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident, and do not ask for a social security number.  Visit the Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) website and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) website for lists of available scholarships.  Students can also apply for Chabot scholarships – check the “Chabot Student Life” website every spring for available scholarships.

 

CA Dream Act vs. Federal Dream Act – what is the difference? 

Do not confuse the CA Dream Act (which provides state financial aid to undocumented AB-540 eligible students) with the proposed Federal Dream Act.  The Federal DREAM (Development, Relief and Education, for Alien Minors) Act is a federal proposal that if passed would provide many undocumented students with a legal path to citizenship.  However, it has not yet passed in Congress.  Because of this proposed act, many undocumented students refer to themselves as “DREAMers.”

 

What is DACA?

As of 9/5/17, the Trump Administration announced the DACA program will be phased out and terminated.  For updates and information about this change, click here

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a 2012 Obama administration policy shift.  DACA allows qualifying individuals to apply for a temporary (2-year) work permit, temporary Social Security number (valid for work authorization only), and protection from deportation.  Students can reapply every two years.  DACA does not grant lawful immigration status or provide a path to citizenship, and is only a temporary measure.

DACA recipients who meet AB-540 criteria can apply for California State Financial Aid by submitting the CA Dream Act Application.  DACA does not make students eligible to apply for FAFSA.

Students who are DACA recipients may also be eligible to be reclassified as CA residents. To be reclassified, submit the Petition for Reclassification of Residency to the Office of Admissions and Records. This petition will require supporting documentation and should only be submitted if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • You currently hold an immigration status (like DACA) that is eligible to establish California residency and you have had (or applied for) that status at least 366 days prior to the start of the term.
  • You have been physically present in California with the intent to make California your home for other than a temporary purpose at least 366 days prior to the start of the term.

 

Who is eligible for DACA?

As of 9/5/17, the Trump Administration announced the DACA program will be phased out and terminated.  For updates and information about this change, click here

The main eligibility criteria for DACA are:

  • You must be 15-30 years old to apply
  • Under 31 years old as of June 15, 2012 (the date of the President’s announcement)
  • You must have arrived in the U.S. before you turned 16
  • In order to apply, you must be continuously present in the U.S. for a minimum of 5 years
  • You must have been present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012
  • You are currently in high school, have earned a GED or high school diploma, or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces
  • You must have a clear criminal record

 

Post-college Options for Dreamers

Many undocumented students have questions about what options are open to them after graduating from college.  Students with DACA are granted 2-year work authorization, which opens up a wide variety of internship and career opportunities.  California SB 1159 allows for all individuals seeking a professional license to apply with either a federal Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or Social Security number (SSN). Other options include graduate or professional school, participating in an LLC or independent contracting.

  • E4FC has a number of excellent guides on earning a living
  • E4FC’s “Life After College” Guide explores graduate school, professional schools, and work options for undocumented students
  • Pre-Health Dreamers have a number of resources and guides for students interested in working in the medical and allied health fields.

 

Post-election Updates & Information

*Updated as of 9/13/17

On September 5, 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on behalf of the entire Trump Administration, announced an end to the DACA program. From United We Dream, here are the top things to know about this announcement:

  1. DACA is valid until its expiration date.
    DACA and work permits (Employment Authorization Documents) will remain valid until its expiration date. To determine when your DACA and work permit expires, look at your I-795 Approval Notice and the bottom of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
  2. No new DACA applications will be accepted.
    United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) no longer will accept or process first-time applications after September 5, 2017.
  3. DACA issuances and work permits expiring between now and March 5, 2018 must be submitted for renewal by October 5, 2017.
    If you have a permit that will expire between now and March 5, 2018, you must apply for a two-year renewal of your DACA by October 5, 2017.
  4. Advance Parole to travel abroad is no longer available.
    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will no longer grant DACA recipients permission to travel abroad through Advance Parole. Any pending applications for advance parole will not be processed and DHS will refund any associated fees.

For complete updates on the end of DACA, please visit the Immigration Legal Resource Center information guide and the Department of Homeland Security FAQ section of the rescission of the DACA Program.

If you qualify for DACA renewal or have questions about your DACA or legal status, we encourage you to consult with an immigration attorney as soon as possible:

  • To search for local low-cost/free immigration clinics by zip code, click here
  • If you are eligible to renew your DACA, the Mission Asset Fund is providing scholarships to cover the cost of renewal fees.   

While the DACA program will be discontinued, all CA laws, including AB540 and the CA Dream Act will remain in place. 

To read the Chabot College statement in support of Dreamer Students, click here.

For additional post-election updates, please check out the resources and links below:

 

Disclaimer

Please note, the information on this website is general in nature and serves as a guide. Information may be subject to change without notice.  Please consult the resources provided on this website for more information.  Immigration laws are complex and subject to change.  Please consult with an immigration attorney regarding questions pertaining to immigration and legal status.