California Non-Resident Tuition Exemption

Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540) is a California law, enacted in 2002, which allows non-resident students to pay in-state tuition fees for all California public colleges and universities. AB540: Exempts eligible undocumented students from out-of-state tuition fees.

Instructions for completing and submitting the AB 540 form

1. Download and complete the California Non-Resident Tuition Exemption ( AB 540) using the button below. 

    • You will be required to provide information on the schools you attended, including the dates you attended and the number of credits or hours obtained. 

2. Submit the completed form with your photo identification in person at an enrollment services office or via email to



You can request an appointment for assistance with enrollment, CA Dream Act application, AB 540 forms, access to resources, counseling with designated counselors and for any other questions or needs at the Dream Resource Center


Immigrants Rising’s In-State Tuition Tool (ISTT) helps you determine whether you qualify for in-state tuition (AB 540/SB 68) in California. You can also use the Immigrants Rising AB 540 quick guide for calculating your eligibility. 


How does a student become eligible for AB 540?

To qualify for resident tuition under AB 540, students must have:

  1. Attended a California high school for at least three years:
    • The required three years may be non-consecutive. For example, students may go to a California high school for 9th and 10th grade, go out of state for 11th grade and come back to California for 12th grade.
    • Although AB 540 requires three years in HS, a student may also qualify for the non-resident tuition exemption if they have attended a combination of elementary, middle, and/or high school in California for at least three years (see AB 2000 information below).
  2. Graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent of a high school diploma such as 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.

Assembly Bill 2000 ( AB 2000)

AB 2000, is an expansion of AB540 and increases eligibility for students who graduated early from a California High School with the equivalent of three or more years of credits. If a student graduates early, they must have attended CA elementary or secondary schools for a cumulative total of 3 or more years.

AB 2000 amends the school attendance requirement of AB 540 and designates that if a student has not attended a California High School for at least three years, that portion of the eligibility criteria may be replaced by the following:

  • Attainment of three years’ worth of high school credits from a California High School (equivalent to 3 or more years of full-time high school coursework), and
  • A total of 3 or more years of attendance in California elementary or secondary schools, or a combination of those schools (the years do not have to be sequential).

Senate Bill 68 (SB 68)

SB 68 further expands in-state tuition eligibility in California beyond the current requirements for AB 540/AB 2000. Due to this new law, more students are eligible to pay in-state tuition at California public colleges.

SB 68 allows students to count full-time attendance at a California Community College, Adult School, Department of Rehabilitation and Correction School, High School, or combination of these schools to meet the 3 years AB 540 requirements.

Students will be able to use an Associate’s Degree or the fulfillment of the minimum transfer requirements for the UC's or CSU's to meet the requirements. Contact the school you plan to attend for further information.


    • Undocumented individuals
    • T and U visa holders
    • U.S. citizens
    • Lawfully present immigrants who meet the eligibility criteria above can apply if their classes were taken in 2001 or after



    • Individuals with international student visas, visitor visas, or other “nonimmigrants” statuses are not eligible to apply

Types of Non-Resident Tuition Exemption

Any student, other than one with a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) nonimmigrant visa status (see exception below for students who have been granted T or U visa status), who meets all of the following requirements, shall be exempt from paying nonresident tuition at the California Community Colleges, the University of California, and the California State University (all public colleges and universities in California).

A student is exempt from paying nonresident tuition if the student meets all of the following four requirements:

  • The student must have:
    • attended a combination of California high school, adult school, and California Community College for the equivalent of three years or more, or
    • 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
  • 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), or
    • completed an associate 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, and
  • The student must register as an entering student at, or current enrollment at, an accredited institution of higher education in California, and
  • The student must file an affidavit with the college or university stating that if the student is a non-citizen without current or valid immigration status, the student has filed an application to legalize immigration status, or will file an application as soon as the student is eligible to do so.

Students who are nonimmigrants who are victims of trafficking, domestic violence, and other serious crimes who have been granted T or U visa status, under Title 8 of the United States Code, sections 1101(a)(15)(T) or (U) are eligible for this exemption.

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.

A year’s equivalence at a California Community College is a minimum of 24 semester units of credit or 36 quarter units of credit. For noncredit courses, a year’s attendance is a minimum of 420 hours, 210 hours for a semester, and 140 hours a quarter.

The accumulation of credit and/or non-credit in any academic year shall be calculated in reference to a year’s equivalence. Partial completion in an academic year is allowed. (Example: 12 units of credit courses in an academic year is equal to a semester for purposes of determining eligibility.)

Attendance in credit courses at a California Community College towards the attendance requirements shall not exceed two years of full-time attendance.

The student must file an exemption request including a signed affidavit with the college that indicates the student has met all applicable conditions described above. Student information obtained in this process is strictly confidential unless disclosure is required under law.

Students eligible for this exemption who are transferring to another California public college or university must submit a new request (and documentation if required) to each college under consideration.

Nonresident students meeting the criteria will be exempted from the payment of nonresident tuition, but they will not be classified as California residents. They continue to be "nonresidents".

The California Dream Act extends Cal Grant A and B Entitlement awards, Cal Grant C awards, the California Promise Grant (formerly known as the BOG fee waiver), Chaffee grants, and institutional financial aid to students that meet these criteria as well as the applicable criteria for eligibility for specific types of financial aid refer to Financial Aid Office web pages for additional information.

AB540 does not provide federal student financial aid eligibility for undocumented students. These students remain ineligible for federal financial aid.

Exemption is not available for persons who are absent from California and who are taking distance education classes.

Students who are U.S. citizens and who may presently reside in a foreign country will be exempt from nonresident tuition by meeting the following requirements:

  • Demonstrates a financial need for the exemption.
  • Has a parent or guardian who has been deported or was permitted to depart voluntarily under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act.
  • Moved abroad as a result of the deportation or voluntary departure.
  • Lived in California immediately before moving abroad.
  • Attended a public or private secondary school in California for three or more years.
  • Upon enrollment, will be in his or her first academic year as a matriculated student in California public higher education.
  • Will be living in California and will file an affidavit with the community college stating that he or she intends to establish residency in California as soon as possible.

Documentation shall be provided by the student as required by statute as specified in Ed Code section 76140(a)(5).

Education Code section 68075.6 grants an immediate nonresident tuition fee exemption to eligible Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders and refugee students who settled in California upon entering the United States. This exemption is granted for one year from the date the student settled in California upon entering the United States.

This exemption applies to the following:

  • Iraqi citizens or nationals (and their spouses and children) who were employed by or on behalf of the United States Government in Iraq (Pub.L. No. 110-181, § 1244)
  • Afghan and Iraqi translators (and their spouses and children) who worked directly with the United States Armed Forces (Pub.L. No. 109-163, § 1059)
  • Afghanistan nationals who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government or in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan (Pub.L. No. 111-8, § 602)
  • Refugee students admitted to the United States under Section 1157 of Title 8 of the United States Code.