Skip To Main Content

Undocumented Students

Undocumented students can also attend college and even have the chance to qualify for financial aid! If you are undocumented and hoping to attend college next year, it is important that you fill out the California Dream Act Application before the priority deadline! For more information, take a look at this College Guide for Undocumented students:

AB 540 vs California Dream Act vs DACA

AB 540

  • AB 540 allows qualified non-California residents to be exempt from paying out-of-state tuition at public colleges and universities in California.

  • Does not grant residency.

  • Must have:

      • Graduated with a California high school diploma or have the equivalent; and

      • attended a high school in California for three or more years; and

  • Must register or be 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 (Non-immigrants, as defined by federal law, have been admitted to the United States temporarily and may have been granted one of the following visas: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, TN, TD, V, TROV, NATO.

California Dream Act

  • The California Dream Act allows undocumented and nonresident students (U.S. Citizens and eligible non-citizens) who qualify for a non-resident exemption under Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540) to receive certain types of financial aid such as: private scholarships funded through public universities, state administered financial aid, university grants, community college fee waivers, and Cal Grants.

  • In addition, the California Dream Act, allows eligible students to pay in-state tuition at any public college in California. This application is unrelated to the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

  • Does not grant residency.

  • Open to...

    • Students who live in California and meet the eligibility requirements for a non-resident exemption, as well as students who have a U Visa or TPS status, can use the California Dream Act application (CADAA). Similarly, students without Social Security Numbers or students who have lost DACA status (or never applied for DACA), may still be eligible.


  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a discretionary immigration benefit granted by Department of Homeland Security.
  • Benefits: Under DACA, the U.S. government will not pursue the deportation of qualified individuals for two years. Another key DACA benefit for undocumented individuals is the opportunity to receive employment authorization. Depending on one’s home state, deferred action may qualify recipients for other benefits, such as driver’s licenses and in-state tuition.

  • In compliance with an order of a United States District Court, effective December 7, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is:

    • Accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

  • On July 16, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas held that the DACA policy “is illegal.” The Court granted summary judgment on plaintiffs’ Administrative Procedure Act (APA) claims; vacated the June 15, 2012 DACA memorandum issued by former Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano; remanded the memorandum to DHS for further consideration; and issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the government’s continued administration of DACA and the reimplementation of DACA without compliance with the APA. The Court, however, temporarily stayed its order vacating the DACA memorandum and its injunction with regard to individuals who obtained DACA on or before July 16, 2021, including those with renewal requests.
  • On Oct. 5, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a decision on the 2012 Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) policy. The court partially affirmed the district court’s July 2021 decision declaring the 2012 DACA policy unlawful. However, the court of appeals preserved the partial stay issued by the district court in July 2021 and remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings regarding the new DHS DACA regulation published on Aug. 30, 2022 and scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 31, 2022.

  • At this time, this ruling does not affect current grants of DACA and related Employment Authorization Documents. Consistent with the court’s order [PDF] (PDF) and the ongoing partial stay, we will continue to accept and process renewal DACA requests, accompanying requests for employment authorization, and applications for advance parole for current DACA recipients, and will continue to accept but not process initial DACA requests.

  • The FAQs at Additional Information: DACA Decision in State of Texas, et al., v. United States of America, et al., 1:18-CV-00068, (S.D. Texas July 16, 2021) (“Texas II”) are still applicable.