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Frequently Asked Questions – AB 540

Note: In an attempt to help the student further understand Assembly Bill 540, the following information has been taken in part from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Offices, “Revised Guidelines and Information on AB 540 Exemption from Non-Resident Tuition December 2007”. Additionally, to facilitate understanding of particular immigration language in the bill, information from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services web page has been included. Following, are frequently asked questions regarding the AB 540 non-resident tuition exemption. Further information can be found at the California Community Colleges System’s Office web page:

What is AB 540?
Assembly Bill 540 is a non-resident tuition exemption that is available to certain students that attended a California high school for at least three years and graduated from a California high school. The exemption is available to United States Citizens as well as aliens without lawful immigration status. Students who are non-immigrant aliens are not eligible for the exemption.

What fees are AB 540 students charged?
With the AB 540 non-resident tuition exemption, eligible students will be able to pay the enrollment fee only. Without the exemption, non-resident students are charged the non-resident fee in addition to the enrollment fee. Additionally, all students are responsible for paying the health fee each semester and the student center fee.

Is AB 540 information kept confidential?
Yes, all information is kept confidential. There is no notation on the students’ transcript that indicates they are receiving the AB 540 exemption. Instructors are not informed about the student’s status.

Does AB 540 grant students resident status?
No, AB 540 does not grant students resident status. AB 540 only waives the non-resident tuition and students will still be considered either foreign or out of state students.

How Can Students Apply for the Exemption?
Students interested in applying for the AB 540 non-resident tuition exemption must fill out an affidavit, linked here, at the Admissions office. A separate AB540/AB2000 Affidavit must be submitted for each school the student wants to attend.

Financial Aid Information

  • Effective January 2013, AB 540 students are eligible to apply for student aid such as BOGW (Board of Governor’s Fee Waiver) and Cal Grant. For further information on the California Dream Act, click here.

  • Students that are United States Citizens remain eligible for Federal Financial Aid and student loans.

  • All AB 540 students are eligible to apply for scholarships.

The Law
On October 12, 2001, Governor Davis signed into law Assembly Bill 540 (Stats. 2001, ch. 814) that added a new section 68130.5 to the California Education Code. Section 68130.5 created a new exemption from the payment of nonresident tuition for certain nonresident students who have attended high school in California and received a high school diploma or its equivalent. Education Code section 68130.5 is contained in Attachment One. 

Education Code section 68130.5

 68130.5. Notwithstanding any other provision of law:

(a) A student, other than a non-immigrant alien within the meaning of paragraph (15) of subsection (a) of Section 1101 of Title 8 of the United States Code, who meets all of the following requirements, shall be exempt from paying nonresident tuition at the California State University and the California Community Colleges:

  • (1) High school attendance in California for three or more years.

  • (2) Graduation from a California high school or attainment of the equivalent thereof.

  • (3) Registration as an entering student at, or current enrollment at, an accredited institution of higher education in California not earlier than the fall semester or quarter of the 2001-02 academic year.

  • (4) In the case of a person without lawful immigration status, the filing of an affidavit with the institution of higher education stating that the student has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file an application as soon as he or she is eligible to do so.

(b) A student exempt from nonresident tuition under this section may be reported by a community college district as a full-time equivalent student for apportionment purposes.
(c) The Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges and the Trustees of the California State University shall prescribe rules and regulations for the implementation of this section.
(d) Student information obtained in the implementation of this section is confidential.

Implementation Notes and clarification of Provisions


  1. The law does not grant residency; it requires that certain nonresident students be exempted from paying nonresident tuition.

  2. This benefit is available to all U.S. citizens, permanent residents of the U.S., and aliens who are not non-immigrants (including those who are undocumented), who meet all other eligibility criteria.

  3. Students must meet all requirements to be eligible for the exemption.

  4. Students are eligible for this exemption even if they enrolled in higher education prior to the 2001-2002 academic years. References in the legislation to prior academic years prohibit retroactive application of the exemption but do not preclude previous attendance.

  5. Students do not have to demonstrate an intent to become a California resident in order to qualify for this exemption. For example, those who live in neighboring states and who cross the border to attend classes are entitled to this exemption (assuming they are otherwise eligible) despite the fact that they may have no intention of returning to live in California. However, we have determined that the exemption is not available for persons who are absent from California, but who are taking distance education classes from California community colleges.

Last modified on December 14, 2020


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