Frequently Asked Questions
Can I go to college if I'm undocumented?
Yes! Undocumented students can go to any college of university in California, as long as you meet the requirements and are admitted/accepted. To avoid paying out-of-state tuition, you must meet the AB 540 eligibility requirements .
How do I qualify to pay in-state tuition?
Please refer to the AB 540/AB 2000 Non-Residency Quiestionnaire .
Is there any type of aid to help me pay for school if I am an AB 540 student?
Yes; AB 540 students may receive some type of aid for school. State grants may be provided after you submit your Dream Application through the California Student Aid Commission. State University Grants (SUG) may also be available for AB 540 students, as determined by the Office of Financial Aid. Other university/community college aid (such as the Equal Opportunity Program (EOP), Extended Opportunity Program & Services (EOPS), and Board of Governors Fee Waiver) is also accessible. Additionally, students can apply for scholarships to further the aid.
What are the differences between the California DREAM Act and the Federal DREAM Act?
The California DREAM Act occurs at the state level. The passage of AB 130 and AB 131 by Governor Jerry Brown made the California DREAM Act of 2011 an effective law in the state. It allows certain undocumented students to receive state financial aid and scholarships funded through private donors.
The Federal DREAM Act seeks to bring conditional residency for qualifying undocumented individuals. Although not yet passed by the U.S. Congress, some of the stipulations concerning the Federal DREAM Act will require applicants to be of good moral character, haVe graduated from high school, be currently enrolled or completed two years of college/university, and/or have enlisted in the U.S. Army for at least two years.
How will the Federal DREAM Act contribute to our country's well-being?
The Federal DREAM Act will provide thousands of individuals an opportunity to contribute to our country's well-being by pursuing a higher education, or serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Once the DREAM Act is enacted, it can benefit our economy, security, and nation as a whole.
How does AB 130 work?
AB 130 allocates scholarship money from individuals donors, departmental efforts, and alumni contributors to undocumented students. It also allows the Office of Financial Aid to disburse scholarship money in the event that one receives the previously mentioned awards. Awarding AB 540 students any scholarships or grants due to legal accountability of taxble money. However, AB 130 neither gives you a Social Security Number (SSN), nor asks for one while in the application process. In many cases, an Individual Taxable Identification Number (ITIN) must be used instead of an SSN. Please refer to the scholarship requirements, or contact the donor for detailed criteria.
What are the benefits of AB 131?
AB 131 is the second component of the California DREAM Act, effective January 2013. The stipulation regarding the benefits of AB 131 must be carefully evaluated according to each individual case. For example, a high school senior AB 540 student may qualify for state financial aid, as well as institutional grants like EOP, EOPS, or Board of Governors fee waivers. However, if you already attend a university, you may only qualify for an institutional grant (EOP) and institutional aid, depending on availability. Lastly, if you are enrolled in a community college, you may also qualify for state aid and institutional grants. A simple rule to remember is that more aid is available for students who either have not entered community colleges, and who have not received their first Bachelor's degree from a university. However, all students must turn in a DREAM application to determine current need, school level, and available aid.
Do all AB 540 students need to fill out the DREAM application?
Yes! It is recommended that you fill out the DREAM application if you are an elligible AB 540 student. If you are a graduate student, you may still qualify for a State University Grant (SUG). The DREAM application allows universities and community colleges to determine the number of recipients against available funds.
What are my legal options?
It is important that you have the name and contact information of an attorney at all times. If you become detained, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement asks you to show a valid proof of identification, you have the right to speak to a lawyer. Never sign any documentation that may put you at risk of deportation before you exercise that right. Always know your alternatives before running into last minute choices and decisions.
What is the "Deferred Action" program announced by President Obama?
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program grants certain undocumented youth a two (2) year work permit, and stops the deportation of students who meet certain requirements. Some of these requirements are:
- The student arrived in the U.S. while under the age of sixteen (16),
- The student has continuously resided in the U.S. for five (5) years prior to June 15, 2012,
- And, requires that the student be enrolled in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the U.S..
Additional requirements must be met, and further details can be found at the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) website.
Will I be able to use my degree upon completion of my schooling?
It is important that you consider your alternatives before pursuing a career. Many AB 540 students express this as their biggest challenge upon school completion. State licensing and federal background checks place AB 540 students in a disadvantage, as their identity will not match any agency record. Some AB 540 students assimilate the career objectives to related fields, or seek equal opportunities in countries that welcome their potential.
Can I travel in the United States to present at a conference?
Students need to gain experience, and presenting at conferences is a great way to get just that. Presenting at local universities and colleges also aids in networking, exposure to new resources/opportunities, and building confidence. It is recommended that you have your current passport and school identification cards if you choose to visit another state. Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, some AB 540 students may now find themselves exploring the true values of education.
Is the AB 540 information I provide confidential?
Yes! Your privacy is important, and the information you provide is confidential. The records you disclose in your DREAM application and Affidavit are for University purposes only. Please refer to the Family Educational Righs and Privacy Act (FERPA) to learn more about your rights to privacy, which includes your name, address, phone number, and migratory status.