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AB 540

Financial Assistance for AB 540 Students

AB 540 information for Undocumented Students:
On October 12, 2001, Governor Davis signed into law Assembly Bill 540 (Stats. 2001, ch.814) which adds a new section to the California Education Code. Section 68130.5 creates a new exemption from payment of nonresident tuition for certain nonresident students who have attended high school in California and received a high school diploma or its equivalent.

  • The new law does not grant residency, it requires that certain nonresident students be exempted from paying nonresident tuition.
  • Students exempted from paying nonresident tuition pursuant to section 68130.5 do not become residents for eligibility purposes for any state-funded program (e.g., EOP&S, Cal Grant programs, or for purposes of a BOG Fee Waiver).
  • Students who meet the exemption requirements and who are unlawful immigrants are not eligible for any federal or state financial aid program. Many private sources have created scholarships specific to students not eligible for traditional financial aid programs.
  • Students exempted from paying nonresident tuition pursuant to section 68130.5 are not eligible for the Governor’s Merit Scholar Programs because these scholarships are only available for California residents.
Questions and Answers

I am undocumented, how do I know if I qualify to pay in-state tuition?
Students must meet all requirements in section 68130.5 (a) (1) – (4) to be eligible for the exemption.

  • a. The student must have attended a California high school for three or more years. There are no provisions for partial attendance (e.g. two years and 7 months). The law does not require consecutive attendance nor require that the student attended the last three years in California (in the case of four-year high schools).
  • b. Such attendance could be at multiple California high schools. Attendance at a home school is not acceptable unless the home schooling was provided in a manner recognized under state law. The law does not distinguish between public and private high schools. There is no time limit on how far in the past the student might have attended a California high school.
  • c. The student must have graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent thereof (e.g., a GED or a high school proficiency exam).
  • d. Except for nonimmigrant aliens, any nonresident student who meets the first two requirements shall be exempted from nonresident tuition even if he or she is a US citizen or lawful immigrant.
  • e. The student must file an affidavit with the college or university stating that you have applied for legal immigration status or will apply as soon as you are eligible to do so. Please go to Admissions office at Glendale Community College to ask for the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request form.

Do I need to bring anything with me to the Admissions Office when I apply?
Please bring proof that you have graduated from a California high school and have attended for three years or more. This proof can be in the form of high school transcripts, High School Equivalency Certificate, issued by the California State GED Office or a Certificate of Proficiency, resulting from having taken the California High School Proficiency Examination.

If I am a high school senior, can I turn in my admissions application before I graduate from high school? If I do, what happens to it?
If you turn your application in before your graduation date, your application will be processed as a non resident which means you would be expected to pay out of state tuition. Once you finish high school, it is important that you bring your transcript to the Admissions office and let them know that you will be completing the affidavit necessary to reflect your AB 540 status. This will allow you to pay in-state tuition. Turning your application as early as possible increases your chances of getting a good selection of classes.

What if I already started the paperwork to gain legal residency?
If the student has filed an application with the INS to legalize status, the student may already be eligible for resident fee status if the student has resided in California for more than one year since the time of INS application. (See Title 5 Section 54045.)
Students who are nonimmigrant aliens (the most common being the F series student visas and B series visitor visas), are not eligible for this exemption. (A full description of nonimmigrant alien classification may be found in paragraph 15 of subsection (a) of Section 1101 of Title 8 of the U.S. Code.) People who entered the country as nonimmigrant aliens but subsequently have gone out of status are not eligible for this exemption until they apply to INS to change their status to something other than nonimmigrant.
Under this new law, is the affidavit confidential?
Yes. The affidavit will be filed with the college or university - not the INS - and will remain confidential except in limited circumstances.

Are there any financial resources available to help me?
Students who are not citizens or legal residents of the United States are not eligible for State or Federal financial aid programs because of their immigration status. However, there are a number of scholarships that students’ may apply for that does not consider the students legal residency in the United States.

Who can I contact at GCC if I have any questions?
If you would like to speak to speak to someone at GCC you can contact Greg Perkins at  (818)240-1000  ext. 5571, Hoover Zariani ext. 5789, Ramona Barrio-Sotillo ext. 5565 or Kevin Meza, ext. 5820.

To learn more about scholarships, please review information developed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund MALDEF ( or

(This information is provided as a courtesy to our students; Glendale Community College is not responsible for the content or accuracy of the information. Thank you to Rio Hondo College and the Citizenship Project)


California Supreme Court Agrees to Review Controversial Ruling on In-State Tuition Law

On December 23, 2008, the California Supreme Court granted review in Martinez v. Regents (S167791), which will determine the validity of California Education Code Section 68130.5, commonly referred to as “AB 540.” AB 540 is a California law which provides a waiver of the non-resident tuition fees at California’s public colleges and universities for students – including undocumented students – who have completed three years at a California high school and have either a high school diploma or the equivalent thereof. The California Supreme Court will review a ruling that was issued by a state appeals court in the fall of 2008, which held that providing the AB 540 waiver to undocumented immigrant students was in conflict with federal law.

“We are pleased that every member of the California Supreme Court who considered the petition for review agreed that the Court should hear the case. AB 540 benefits all Californians. Our current and future economic strength as a state depends on college-educated young people. These students are very much the fabric and future of the Latino community and California as a whole,” stated MALDEF President and General Counsel John Trasviña.

The next step in the process is for the parties to file briefs with the Supreme Court. The briefing schedule will likely extend to at least the spring of 2009. After briefs are filed, a date for oral argument will be set. MALDEF will keep you posted on important dates in the case as they become available.
Significantly, AB 540 remains in effect pending the resolution of this case, and in the meantime, students who are eligible should continue to receive the tuition waiver. If AB 540 is ultimately overturned, undocumented students will still be allowed to attend California public colleges and universities but will likely be required to pay non-resident tuition.

MALDEF sought to intervene on behalf of students receiving the AB 540 waiver at the trial level, filed an amicus brief on their behalf with the appellate court, and sent a letter to the California Supreme Court urging them to grant review in this case. MALDEF continues to work with interested amici and to represent the interest of AB 540 students in the judicial process, as well as work with legislators, state officials, students and the community to permit AB 540 students to remain and pay in-state tuition.

MALDEF will continue to communicate any updates on the legal challenge to you using this listserv. If you or anyone you know would like to be added to the listserv, please contact Anna Godinez at  213-629-2512  or by email at Thank you for your support of AB 540 and your commitment to increasing educational opportunities for all Californians.

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