Southwestern College

AB 540

On October 12, 2001, Governor Davis signed into law Assembly Bill 540, which added a new section to the California Education Code. It created 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 exemption was expanded in 2012, 2014, and 2018. This law provides an exemption from paying non-resident fees. However, it does not give the student resident classification status for any other purpose. Students who receive this exemption may qualify for some state-funded programs (EOPS, BOGFW, Financial Aid).


Read the following questions and answers to find out

What are the criteria?

Students must meet all of the following criteria:

  1. The student must have:
    • attended a combination of California high school, adult school, and California Community College for the equivalent of three years or more, or
    • attained credits earned in California from a California high school equivalent to three or more years of full-time high school coursework AND attended a combination of elementary, middle, and/or high schools in California for a total of three or more years, and
  2. The student must have:
    • graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent prior to the start of the term, or
    • completed an associate degree from a California Community College, or
    • completed the minimum requirements at a California Community College for transfer to the California State University or the University of California, and
  3. The student must file an affidavit with the college or university stating that if the student is a non-citizen without current or valid immigration status, the student has filed an application to legalize immigration status, or will file an application as soon as the student is eligible to do so.

Does this mean that a student who is a US citizen or an undocumented immigrant, who graduated from a California High School many years ago, is also eligible?


If the student graduated from a California high school several years ago, moved out of state and has now returned to California to attend college, is that student eligible?


Are students who have been living here in California, and are holders of a visa that is precluded from establishing domicile in the United States (B-1, B-2, C, D-1, D-2, F-1, F-2, H-2, H-3, J1, J-2, M-1, M-2 O-2, P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4, Q (NAFTA), TN and TD) eligible to use AB540?

No. These persons are not eligible for this exemption unless they have applied to INS for a change of status to a classification other than nonimmigrant alien.

What if the student is out of status, but has not filed for a change of status through INS?

This student would be eligible.

Do we have to require proof from the student?

According to the Chancellor's Office, we only require the signed affidavit.

Click here to download the AB 540 form [pdf]


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Last updated: 3/6/2018 3:10:45 PM