Dream Center

 Dream Center - Financial Aid and Scholarships

AB540 and California Dream Act

Undocumented students have access to various forms of financial assistance including, but not limited to, state aid, institutional grants, private scholarships, and more. To learn about the different resources available please see below. 

If you would like to make an appointment with a financial aid officer to discuss your specific situation, you can do so by submitting an inquiry here.

AB540 Eligibility

AB 540 allows undocumented students who meet specific criteria (eligibility requirements) to pay in-state tuition at public state universities and colleges in California. Students who are eligible for AB 540 are also now eligible to apply for California financial aid (grants and the DREAM Loan), as well as non-state funded scholarships through the California DREAM Act Application. Throughout the DREAM Act Application process, all information received from the student and/or family is kept confidential under California state law.

(Please note that students who are not eligible for AB 540 may still be eligible for some external scholarship support.)

In addition to information on this webpage, we strongly recommend using Immigrants Rising student guide to the California DREAM Act.

The first step in applying for financial aid as an AB 540 student, is to complete the AB 540 Affidavit and submit it to Cal Poly’s Admissions Office.

California Dream Act

The California Dream Act allows some undocumented students (who meet specific criteria) to apply for and receive state-based financial aid and institutional scholarships. This means students that apply for the California Dream Act are  automatically considered for the California DREAM Loan and state-funded financial aid, including: institutional state grants, Cal Grants, Chafee Grant, and the State Educational Opportunity Program Grant.

Students will receive an award notification after their application is processed and their financial aid award will be posted to their portal. A student may be selected for a verification process, in which case, they will be required to submit additional information and respond promptly to any requests from the Financial Aid Office. Information will be posted on the student's Cal Poly portal to do list.

The California DREAM Act Application must be renewed each year and financial aid eligibility is dependent on maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), which is determined at the end of each spring quarter.

California Dream Loan

The California DREAM Loan is a subsidized loan program for undergraduate students who have a valid California DREAM Act application and AB 540 Affidavit on file with Cal Poly. Eligible students are automatically offered the loan if funding is available. These students will receive an email notification with the new financial aid award offer on their portal. The steps required to receive the loan, listed below, will be added to a student's to do list on their student center after the loan has been accepted. The interest rate for 2020-21 loans is 2.75%.

Additional Steps to Finalize the California DREAM Loan Award:

  1. ECSI, the loan servicing center, will forward email with log-in information to their website.
  2. The student must follow the email’s instructions to log in, complete loan entrance counseling, and the DREAM Loan Promissory Note.
  3. Once steps 1 - 2 are completed, ECSI will notify Cal Poly and loan funds will be disbursed.

The loan will be granted to another eligible student if it is not accepted and finalized within 30 days after it is offered.

Loan Repayment

A student receives a six month grace period after graduation, or when a student ceases to attend Cal Poly at least half-time 12 units per quarter, before beginning loan repayment. California Dream Loans are set-up to be repaid in monthly installments over a 10-year period and have a minimum payment of $50 a month. You can pay off your loan earlier without penalty.

The loan amount offered for the 2020-21 school year is $1,200 per student.

Financial Aid Timeline

This is a general timeline to apply for and receive aid. Please note this information is subject to change and intended to be used as a general guide. If you have questions about your specific case, please contact our Dream Center coordinator. 

 Apply for CA Dream Act and Cal Grants (Oct 1 - Mar 2). Accept Financial Aid (Mar - May). Apply for private scholarships (May - Sept)

For a comprehensive financial aid checklist, students can view Immigrants Rising toolkit found here.

Internal and External Scholarships

There are various external and internal scholarships available for Cal Poly students. Listed below are undocu-friendly scholarships. Please note that each scholarship has specific eligibility requirements and criteria; while the scholarships listed below do not require US citizenship, they may have additional academic or needs based requirements. 

Additionally, we are consistently updating our website with new resources. If you know additional scholarships we should include, please do not hesitate to reach out here!

Internal Cal Poly Scholarships

Two gold butterflies on a green background.

ASI Dreamers Scholarship

About the Scholarship: During spring quarter 2020, the ASI Board of Directors passed a proposal for the ASI Dreamer Scholarship.The scholarship is awarded to undocumented enrolled Cal Poly students that demonstrated campus and/or community leadership through extracurricular activities and achievements. A student does not need DACA to apply. 

Scholarship Award: $300/quarter ($900/academic year) Criteria for eligibility:

Major and Class Level: Open  full-time enrolled students in any class level

GPA: Minimum 2.5 cumulative Cal Poly

Application Procedure: To apply, use the secure general scholarship application process through the Cal Poly Portal. Refer to the Financial Aid Office for more information. Applications will be identified based on a filed California Dream Act. Questions can be directed to dmedin15@calpoly.edu.

A blue graduation cap and a green bag with a $ on it above the word "scholarships"

Cal Poly University-Wide and College Based Scholarships

Almost all of Cal Poly university wide and college based scholarships are undocu-friendly. There are only a handful that have federal and or US citizenship requirements. To be automatically considered for Cal Poly scholarships, students should submit a general Cal Poly Scholarship Application. Once they submit an application, students will be invited to apply to additional scholarships based on their eligibility. Almost all of our Cal Poly university wide as well as college wide scholarships are undocu-friendly. There are over 1200 scholarships students apply for when their general Cal Poly scholarships application. To view available scholarships, you can click here.


Application dates for continuing students

March 2nd: Cal Poly Scholarship Application Opens

April 30th: Priority Deadline

February: Application closes


Application dates for new students

September: Cal Poly Scholarship Application Opens. New students will receive an email from the financial aid office. 

October: Priority Deadline

External Scholarships

Undocumented students also have access to external scholarships. The Dream center has compiled a list of undocu-friendly scholarships that do require U.S. citizenship.  Please note that while these scholarships do not require U.S. citizenship, there may be additional requirement. Eligibility requirements and application timelines vary by program. We recommend: Scholarships for Undocumented Students - Spreadsheet to get you started

Institutional Support

Cal Poly offers a number of additional services to support students meet their basic needs and their holistic financial wellness. Below are a some of our resources available to students. 

Cal Poly Cares

Cal Poly Cares provides limited financial assistance to currently enrolled Cal Poly students who are unable to meet immediate, essential expenses because of temporary hardship related to an unexpected situation. The grant is designated to offset a short-term financial need and is not intended to replace or supplement financial aid. Therefore, long-term needs can be addressed by meeting with a Financial Aid Counselor to determine available options. Funds are awarded as a grant, and unlike a loan, do not need to be repaid

Cal Poly Cares can provide financial assistance for DACA/visa renewal fees in the event of unexpected loss of income.

To apply and learn more about Cal Poly Cares, you can visit the website.  

Cal Poly Food Pantry

The Food Pantry was created out of a need identified by faculty and staff who were seeing an increased number of students going hungry and without the means to purchase basic food and supplies. Cal Poly community members can choose from a wide variety of packaged and canned foods, fresh produce, frozen meals, and personal hygiene products.

More information can be found here

Meal Voucher Program

Meal Vouchers are available to students experiencing a short-term financial need. Students can receive up to $20/week to assist with meals on campus at Vista Grande, Campus Market, Red Radish, Mustang Station, and PCV. Apply for a meal voucher using the link below. If a student is experiencing ongoing hardships, please contact the Dean of Students at student-success@calpoly.edu for additional resources.

More information can be found here

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