CA Dream Act Overview

Themes/Topics: Higher Education

Geography: California

Audience: Ally, Educator, Undocumented Youth


The California Dream Act allows some undocumented students to apply for and receive state-based financial aid and institutional scholarships. Passing the California Dream Act symbolizes a milestone victory for undocumented students and allies in California who organized and advocated for increased access to college. This represents a critical investment in undocumented students and in the future of California.

The types of aid included in the CA Dream Act are: Cal Grants, UC Grants, State University Grants, California College Promise Grant and EOP or EOPS grants. It also includes the Middle-Class Scholarships and school-specific scholarships. The CA Dream Act can also give you access to Dream Loans at the CSU or UC, even if you are undocumented.

Read Types of California State Financial Aid
We put together a series of helpful tools to ensure students don’t miss any steps in applying for and receiving state financial aid.


Who can apply for the California Dream Act?

Undocumented Students must meet the eligibility criteria for AB 540, AB 2000, SB 68 or U-Visa holders to apply for and receive California state financial aid. The California Dream Act allows students to receive state and institutional grants if they meet income guidelines, apply by the priority deadlines, and complete all necessary paperwork on-time.

Read Understand the Differences: In-State Tuition vs CA Dream Act vs DACA
If you have questions about your eligibility, check out this chart that compares AB 540, AB 2000, the California Dream Act and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in more detail. Please be aware that DACA does not give students eligibility for the FAFSA or any federal financial aid.

Read FAFSA vs CA Dream Act: Apply to the Correct Financial Aid in CA
If you have questions about which financial aid application you should complete (FAFSA vs. DREAM) or have questions about your eligibility, use this guide to be sure you use the correct application to be considered for all the financial aid you may be eligible for.

What if you don’t qualify for the California Dream Act?
Don’t give up! All Undocumented Students can go to college and receive private or institutional scholarships! Check out our detailed list of undergraduate and graduate scholarships that don’t require proof of citizenship.



Students and Educators can use our California Dream Act Map to identify all the necessary steps in each phase of the application process.
For more information, check out CSAC’s Resources for California Dream Act Application.



Phase 1: Apply for the California Dream Act. October 1 – March 2

Download California Dream Act Application Checklist
Remember that applying for the California Dream Act it is only the first step to apply for the institutional and state financial aid at the CCC, CSU or UC. Complete this checklist in order to be considered for all state financial aid, including the Cal Grant and Middle Class Scholarship.

Phase 2: Verify your GPA. October 1 – March 2

Download Cal Grant Checklist
Applying for the California Dream Act as a high school senior or transfer student is the only opportunity AB 540 and undocumented students have to receive the Cal Grant. This checklist helps students identify the necessary steps to apply for the Cal Grant.

Phase 3: Claim your financial aid. March – May

Read Verifying Your Income for the CA Dream Act Application
After you submit your CA Dream Act application, a percentage of students will be required to complete income verification. You must answer all questions, which usually include household size, assets, information for tax filers and non-tax filers as well as specific requirements for dependent or independent students.

Phase 4: Use your financial aid. May – September

Read Types of Financial Aid Available for Undocumented Students in California
The types of financial aid undocumented students can apply for depends on their residency status. The California Dream Act, which requires students to meet AB 540/ SB 68 eligibility, increases the options of state financial aid.

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