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California State University, Long Beach
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The current national immigration laws and regulations have their foundation in the Federal Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act of 1996. It is in this context that AB 540 is best understood as California’s effort to address the needs of unprotected students who wish to continue their education. Federal and state laws are the context for several university policies, some which are described in this guide.

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act 1996, also known as Public Law 104- 208, and the Welfare Reform Act includes provisions to eliminate eligibility for Federal and State public benefits for certain categories of lawful immigrants as well as benefits for all undocumented immigrants. The law prohibits:

Undocumented student from accessing postsecondary education benefits unless a US citizen or national is eligible for the same benefit.

Undocumented students barred from obtaining in-state fees or direct student aid.

Students who will require a commercial or professional license provided by a local, state, or federal government agency in order to engage in an occupation for which the CSU trains them must meet the immigration requirements of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act to achieve licensure.

The proposed state and federal legislation listed below have been pending for several years and will likely continue to be reintroduced. AB 540 students may be familiar with these and may seek information about the legislation. These include the US DREAM Act and the California DREAM Act. Students can visit NILC or Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo.

State Legislation

The California Dream Act of 2011 (AB 130 and AB 131 (Cedillo) is a state law that allows U.S. citizen and undocumented “AB 540” students to apply and compete for financial aid at California public colleges and universities without the use of the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA).

Under the California Dream Act of 2011:

  • AB 540 students will be eligible to apply for the Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver at all public California Community Colleges.
  • AB 540 students will be permitted to apply for Institutional Student Aid and compete for any student aid program administered by the attending college or university (i.e. State University Grant, UC Grant)
  • AB 540 students will be eligible for State Administered Student Aid programs and allowed to apply for other statewide student aid program such as, but not limited to Cal Grants.

Under separate legislation it has also been proposed a number of times to amend AB 540 to broaden the scope of covered students:

  • AB 540 Clean-Up Language amendment will delete the term high school and substitute the term secondary school for the eligibility of exemption from out of state tuition rates. This will allow students who finish at continuation or adult schools to be eligible for exemption from out of state tuition rates.