Got Papers? Got Dreams?
Know that you can go to college regardless of your immigration status
Are you a current middle school or high school student? Are you a recent high school graduate or GED recipient?

Are you concerned that you can’t go to college because of your immigration status?

Are your parents concerned about family confidentiality so you can’t tell anyone of your immigration status?

Is the cost of higher education keeping you from applying?

Welcome to Our Site

This site is designed to address the most common questions raised by unprotected immigrant students like you who want a better future. The information contained may not always be conclusive thereby requiring additional consultation.

If you dream of a better future, you can prepare for it, even without papers, AND you can pay lower in-state tuition instead of out-of-state tuition if you qualify for AB 540. This is possible because of a state law known as AB 540 or the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption, also known as the AB540 Affidavit.  Once you are admitted to a California public college you can submit the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request.

As a result of AB 540 you can qualify for exemption from out-of-state tuition:

  • If you graduated with a California high school diploma or have the equivalent; and
  • attended a high school in California for three or more years; and
  • attained high school credit equivalent to three or more years of full time attendance;
  • or three or more years of high school coursework and attended a combination of California elementary, secondary, and high school for three years or more.
  • or attended a combination of California high school, adult school, and community college for the equivalent of three years or more.
  • or completed an associate’s degree from a California Community College.
  • or completed the minimum requirements at a California Community College for transfer to the California State University or the University of California.
  • Must register or is currently enrolled at an accredited institution of public higher education in California;
  • Must file or will file an affidavit as required by individual institutions, stating that the filer will apply for legal residency as soon as possible;
  • Must not hold a valid non-immigrant visa (F, J, H, L, A, E, etc.)

If your dream is to go to the finest college or university you have to work hard in K-12, take college preparatory courses (i.e. the UC and CSU A-G course list) from the 8th to 12th grade, take high school advanced placement courses, and stayed out of trouble.

Even if your grades are not the best, you can go to a California Community College. There you can take the courses that get you on the pathway to a “Transfer Curriculum” so that you qualify for the University of California, the California State University, or an independent (private) college or university.

If you go to Adult or Continuing School you can still apply for AB 540 as long as you meet the requirements for AB 540.

Students that qualify for AB 540 can apply for state financial aid through the California Dream Act, available at  Be sure to apply no later than March 2 each year to qualify for state financial aid for the next school year.  Undocumented students must not apply for federal financial aid.  In California do not use the FAFSA.  Use the California Dream Act application only.

Students that do not qualify for AB 540 can go to college, although it will be a bit tougher financially. Thousands are doing it with scholarships and you can too.

There is a law that protects the confidentiality of student records. Check out the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for more information on how to talk with your family about your private information.

There are thousands of undocumented students studying and graduating with the associate’s degree, baccalaureate degree, master’s degree, professional degree, and doctorate right now. There are support groups, services available to help you succeed in college, state financial aid and scholarships to help pay for college.

What We Do After November 8, 2016

The presidential election has traumatized many immigrants and their loved ones. Be assured that many of us will fight any federal efforts to set back the gains Californian have made on behalf of the immigrant community. AB 540 and the California Dream Act are California laws, not federal laws. Students in California eligible for these benefits will continue to have them.

Students are advised to stay the course. If you are a college student on your way to a degree, stay in school. You earned your way to college through your own merit and the grace of your loved ones. Use your college years to think critically, to command your emotions, to realize the dreams that have sustained you all along. If you are in k-12, stay in school. College is possible for you.

Stay connected with allies, connect with immigrant advocacy groups. Stay informed by joining reputable community nonprofits such as those listed on the legal resources page on this website. US history is replete with past injustices that the people have overcome to make this country a more perfect union. As long as we resist injustices, hope for a more just future, it will be within our reach.

Peace be with you.

Elena Macías, Ph.D., M.S.W.
AB 540 Ally Training Project
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