California Non-Resident Tuition Exemption

For Eligible California High School Graduates (AB 540)


Any student, other than a non immigrant alien, who meets all of the following requirements, shall be exempt from paying nonresident tuition at Community Colleges, the California State University and the University of California (all public colleges and universities in California).

  • Requirements
      • The student must have attended a high school (public or private) in California for three (3) or more years.
      • The student must have graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent prior to the start of the term (for example, passing the GED or California High School Proficiency exam).
      • An alien student who is without lawful immigration status must file an affidavit with the college or university stating that he or she has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file an application as soon as he or she is eligible to do so.
  • Students who are non-immigrants [for example, those who hold F (student) visas, B (visitor) visas, etc.] are not eligible for this exemption.
  • The student must file an exemption request including a signed affidavit with the college that indicates the student has met all applicable conditions described above. Student information obtained in this process is strictly confidential unless disclosure is required under the law.
  • Students eligible for this exemption who are transferring to another California public college or university must submit a new request (and documentation if required) to each college under consideration.
  • Nonresident students meeting the criteria will be exempted from the payment of nonresident tuition, but they will not be classified as California residents. They will continue to be "nonresidents".
  • AB540 does not provide student financial aid eligibility for undocumented alien students. These students remain ineligible for state and federal financial aid. 

Frequently Asked Questions

 What is AB 540?

On October 11, 2001, Governor Gray Davis signed Assembly Bill 540 (now Education Code Section 68130.5) creating a new exemption from nonresident tuition for any student who meets ALL of the following criteria:

  • Attended high school in California for 3 or more years;
  • graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent;
  • Is registered at, or attending an accredited institution of higher education in California not earlier than Fall 2001; and
  • If a student without lawful immigration status files an affidavit with the campus stating that he or she has applied to legalize immigration status (using INS form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative) or will do so as soon as he or she is eligible.

When did the law take effect?

January 2, 2002

What are the procedures for requesting the exemption from nonresident tuition?

Download the AB 540 Affidavit . Please see instructions on form.

How do students request a refund if they have already paid nonresident tuition and then become eligible for an exemption?

Procedures for requesting a refund are available in the Bursar's Office. You may request your refund with the Bursar's Office via

Fax number: (408) 924-1654

Phone number: (408) 924-1601


Do students need to file a new affidavit each semester they enroll?

No. Students providing an affidavit are not required to submit a new affidavit for any future term of continuous enrollment after the original affidavit is submitted. A break in continuous enrollment will require completion of a new affidavit.

Are U.S. citizens who are current residents of other states but meet all the criteria eligible?


Does the exemption apply to students holding valid non-immigrant (temporary) visas (such as F, J, H, L or other temporary visa)?


Are students covered under this exemption eligible to receive State University Grants(SUG)?

No. Students exempted from paying nonresident tuition do not become residents for eligibility purposes for any state-funded program.

Are students covered under this exemption eligible to receive other financial aid?

Students who are covered under this exemption are not eligible for any state financial aid. Requirements for federal financial aid are determined by federal regulations. Citizenship criteria for specific stipends, internships, or scholarships are determined by the agency handling the application and selection process.

Are students covered under this exemption eligible to receive a waiver of the application fee based on qualifying financial status?


Are students covered under this exemption eligible to participate in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)?

No. Students are exempt from paying nonresident tuition, but do not become residents for eligibility purposes for any state-funded program, such as EOP.

What happens if the certification provided by a student is later determined to be false?

The student will be liable for the repayment of the difference between resident and nonresident tuition that would have been applicable for all terms of attendance. The student may also be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

What happens to the information obtained in the implementation of this law?

The law requires that all information obtained in the implementation remain a confidential portion of the students' permanent record. For audit purposes, the original documents must be maintained for at least five years.

Will my California residency change if I am approved for this waiver?

No. You must complete the approved Residency Change form and provide appropriate documentation for the change.