If you are undocumented, live in California, and want to go to college, you can still get your tuition & fees reduced and receive state based financial aid by meeting the eligibility requirements.
California is a leader within the nation in supporting undocumented immigrants in their path to obtain a college degree. If you are considered a “non-resident” student in CA looking to go to college or access higher education, you will pay much higher tuition fees than resident students. However, California has a set of laws that can provide you with in-state tuition and state-based financial aid, if you meet the eligibility requirements.
At California colleges and public universities, the amount of tuition you pay is decided by the schools. They determine your “California residency for tuition purposes” based your legal presence in the state, continuous physical presence for more than one year and intent and ability to stay in California indefinitely. This does not refer to your U.S. citizenship, permanent residency status, or lack thereof.
If you are considered a non-resident for tuition purposes,, you will pay approximately three times more than a resident student. However, if you are eligible, you can submit a non-resident tuition waiver, and get your fees reduced.
California is also one of the few states in the nation that offers financial aid to their undocumented students. If you are an undocumented student and meet certain requirements, you can receive state-based financial aid and institutional scholarships which can be used to help pay for your tuition and, in some cases, additional educational costs. This is money you don’t have to pay back.
The CA Dream Act includes Cal Grants, UC Grants, State University Grants, California College Promise Grant and EOP/EOPS grants, as well as the Middle-Class Scholarships and school-specific scholarships. The CA Dream Act can also give you access to loans, even if you are undocumented.
How In-State Tuition and the CA Dream Act Work Together
If you are an undocumented student, the California college or university must determine that you meet the eligibility requirements for the non-resident tuition exemption (AB 540/AB 2000/SB 68) in order to receive state based financial aid through the California Dream Act. This only applies to public colleges and universities.
Check if you qualify for California in-state tuition with our In-State Tuition Tool.Back to Resources