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State Assembly Bill 540


What is Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540)?

Assembly Bill 540 is a California law that allows qualified students to pay in‐state tuition at the state's institutions of higher education. For example, based in 2013‐2014, the average in‐state annual tuition for a in-state student at the University of California was $13,200 compared to out‐state tuition $36,078 for a non‐resident student. AB 540 does not grant state or federal financial eligibility, and only provides an exemption to the requirements to pay non‐resident tuition.

The Law - Assembly Bill 540

On October 12, 2001, Governor Gray Davis signed into law Assembly Bill 540 (Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh) (Stats. 2001, ch. 814) adding a new section, 68130.5, to the California Education Code. Section 68130.5 created a new exemption from the payment of non‐resident tuition for certain non‐resident students who have attended high school in California and received a high school diploma or its equivalent.

How Does One Qualify for AB 540?

To qualify as an AB 540 student, undocumented students must:

  • Have attended a California high school for 3 years or more full academic years between grades 9 through 12 (they do not need to be consecutive years).
  • Be (or will be) a graduate from a California high school or have attained a GED; or received a passing mark on the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE).
  • Register or be currently enrolled at an accredited institution of public higher education in California.
  • File or plan to file an affidavit as required by individual institutions, stating that he/she will apply for legal residency as soon as possible.
  • Not hold a valid non‐immigrant visa (F, J, H, L, A, E, etc.). Students that do not qualify for AB 540 can still attend a California institution of higher education as long as they meet the admissions criteria and are accepted by the university, but they must pay out‐state tuition.