Undocumented Students FAQ's
If I am undocumented, can I go to college?
Yes, you can go to any college or university in California, if you meet the admissions requirements.
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo welcomes and supports students without regard to their immigration status. We will continue to admit students in a manner consistent with our nondiscrimination policy and without regard to a student’s national origin, religion, age, gender, race or other protected characteristics. Cal Poly’s Dream Center is committed to creating an environment in which all admitted students can successfully matriculate and graduate.
You cannot be denied admission based on your immigration status to any state schools in California. You can pay in-state tuition if you meet the criteria for state law AB 540.
If I am undocumented, can I receive financial aid?
As an undocumented student, you may currently qualify for state financial aid. The California Dream Act, divided into AB 130 and AB 131, provides access to private funding in the form of scholarships and state aid, specifically the California Cal Grant, for those who qualify.
What does Non-Immigrant mean?
Students with current nonimmigrant visas are not eligible for this tuition exemption (exp. Tourist (F Visa) or student (B Visa).
A student whose visa has expired and is now “out of status,” will be eligible for in-state tuition fees if they meet their state undocumented stated requirements.
Students categorized as AB 540 (undocumented) will not be classified as California residents.
A student with “any” legal status is not considered undocumented.
What are AB540 facts?
AB540 does not apply to private colleges or universities, unless they decide to abide the set requirements.
AB540 does not grant legal residency to qualifying students.
AB540 does not grant state or federal financial aid.
AB540 only provides an exemption to the requirements of paying nonresident tuition for students who qualify.
What are the AB 540 requirements?
Student must have attended a high school in California for three years or more.
Student must have graduated from a California High School or attained the equivalent of a high school diploma (i.e. Passed the GED or CA High School Proficiency Exam).
Student must register or be currently enrolled in one of the three state institutions of higher learning (UC, CSU, Community Colleges).
Student without Immigration status must file an affidavit with the public college or university stating that he or she has applied to legalize his or her legal status or will do so as soon as he or she is eligible to do so. (Some private schools may also require this, not enforced)
All information provided by the student will be kept confidential by the college or university.
This is an expansion of AB540. It increases the scope of student eligibility for students who graduated early from a California High School with the equivalent of three or more years of credits. If student graduates early, they must have attended CA elementary or secondary schools for a cumulative total of 3 or more years.
Passed in 2017, this public postsecondary education exemption from nonresident tuition was approved by the governor and filed with the Secretary of State on October 5, 2017. This legislation amended Education Code, section 68130.5, changing the criteria for students eligible for a nonresident tuition exemption, as previously defined in Assembly Bill 540 (2001). Senate Bill 68 expands the requirements of AB 540/ AB 2000 to include attendance at California Community Colleges and attainment of an associate's degree.
Does filing an AB 540 affidavit impact my California Legal Residency?
AB 540 does NOT establish legal residency for immigrant students or for undocumented students who are eligible for AB 540. It only exempts students from paying non-resident fees. Undocumented students who have questions about their legal residency should consult an immigration attorney.
Is My Information Private?
The information a student shares with a college or university is protected by federal law and CANNOT be shared with anyone, including immigration officials. It is protected by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. The school legally cannot share this information with third parties including the Department of Immigration and Naturalization (INS), now the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Also, not all AB 540 students are undocumented. Many are legal residents. AB 540 forms are worded in a way so as to protect undocumented students from having to declare their status (they are grouped with US citizens and permanent residents). The affidavit says “IF” they are an “alien without lawful immigration status,” then they will pursue a means to change their immigration status when it becomes available.
What is the Affidavit?
The affidavit states that the student will adjust their status, as soon as they are eligible to do so.
The affidavit is required by example at end of document law by the public college where the students will be attending.
Students are not required to submit a new affidavit when there is continuous enrollment.
The information on the affidavit is kept confidential, as required by law.
Please click for the Affidavit, also known as the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request.
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 Brown made The California Dream Act of 2011 an effective law in the state. The law at the state level allows certain undocumented students to apply and receive state financial aid and receive scholarships funded through private donors. On the other hand, the Federal Dream Act seeks to bring conditional residency for qualifying undocumented individuals. Although not yet passed by the United States 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 or university, and/or have enlisted in the US army for at least two years.
Where do I go to fill out the Dream Act Application?
Students can fill out the Dream Act Application at the following link:
What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?
On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization.
Only individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these guidelines will be considered for deferred action. Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis under the guidelines set forth in the Secretary of Homeland Security’s memorandum.
On September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration announced that the DACA program would be rescinded and no new applications would be approved.
On January 9, 2018, a federal judge issued an injunction that temporarily stopped the Department of Homeland Security from proceeding with the termination of the DACA program.
For information and eligibility requirements, visit the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) site. Source: USCIS.GOV
More DACA resources can be found at , and at .
May I work on Campus? Am I eligible for a paid or unpaid Internship?
If the student has received their work authorization and a SSN through DACA, the student may work on campus. Most students who work on campus are hired as "student assistants" and are paid through public funds, which require residency and a valid social security number. There are some paid options through a stipend process for Undocumented students at Cal Poly, SLO. Please contact the Dream Center for more information.
Post-college Options for Students
Many undocumented students have questions about what options are open to them after graduating from college. Students with DACA are granted 2-year work authorization, which opens up a wide variety of internship and career opportunities. California SB 1159 allows for all individuals seeking a professional license to apply with either a federal Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or Social Security number (SSN). Other options include graduate or professional school, participating in an LLC or independent contracting.
Immigrants Rising has a number of excellent guides on Entrepreneurship
The Immigrants Rising “Life After College” Guide explores graduate school, professional schools, and work options for undocumented students
Pre-Health Dreamers have a number of resources and guides for students interested in working in the medical and allied health fields.
Please note, the information on this page is general in nature and serves as a guide. Information may be subject to change without notice. Please consult the resources provided on this website for more information. Immigration laws are complex and subject to change. Please consult with an immigration attorney regarding questions pertaining to immigration and legal status.