In 2011, educational opportunities for California’s undocumented students were revolutionized with the California Dream Act. The Act, which became active on July 1, 2012, allows undocumented and nonresident documented students who meet certain provisions to apply for and receive state financial aid, private scholarships funded through public universities, university grants, community college fee waivers, and Cal Grants.
Students who meet the qualifications of California Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540 Status) can legally apply for financial aid and scholarships through the California Dream Act, making the dream of getting a college education possible for many.
To obtain AB 540 Status, a student must:
- Attend a California secondary school for at least three years or graduated from a CA High School with the equivalent of three or more years of credit;
- Graduate from a California secondary school or pass the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) or obtain a certificate of GED (General Education Development);
- Enroll in an accredited or qualifying California college or university;
- If applicable, have completed an application for a lawful immigration status as soon as they are eligible.
AB 540 students may include undocumented students; students who are U.S. citizens; but who are not residents of California; and usually dependent students whose parents are not residents of California.
To begin the application, visit: www.csac.ca.gov/dream_act.asp. For more information on the California Dream Act, including the application worksheet, Spanish paper version and other useful forms, visit dream.csac.ca.gov.
For the Fall 2015 school terms, students may begin the application process January 1, 2015. Students may also apply for Cal Grants. Cal Grants are free money for college that does not have to be paid back. Students may receive up to $12,192 annually for up to 4 years of college. The amount varies depending upon the college of attendance. To apply for a Cal Grant, you must complete the Dream Act application and your school certified GPA must be submitted after January 1, 2015 and before March 2, 2015.
California Dream Act Application information is not shared with federal databases. The same privacy and information security laws and safeguards that apply to all other state financial aid applicants protect student and parent information submitted in the Dream Act application.
The recent federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) does not prevent students from applying for California Dream Act financial aid. California students who have applied for or received approval for Deferred Action should complete the California Dream Act Application, not the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
If there are additional questions or need assistance completing the Dream Act Application, call (888) 224-7268.
For additional details, deadlines, or forms, make sure to check with your school and their financial aid office.