Paying For College

This section will cover the various resources available to eligible students regardless of immigration status to fund their community college education.  We believe that all students should take advantage of all the resources available to them to help them succeed in their personal and personal aspiration. In this section you will find information about:  
  • Understanding AB-540: Non-Resident Tuition Exemption 
  • The California Dream Act – Financial Aid Application  
  • California Community College Promise Grant (CCPG) 
  • COA Promise Grant: The College of Alameda Promise Program 
  • Scholarships for Undocumented Students  

Pathways to Financial Aid: AB540, SB68, and the California Dream Act  

Undocumented Students who are eligible for AB-540 and SB68 are eligible to receive various forms of financial aid support to assist them throughout their community college journeys. 

Understanding AB-540: Non-Resident Tuition Exemption: 

The AB-540 non-resident tuition exemption is a bill that was signed into law in October 2001 allowing undocumented students, legal permanent residents and U.S. Citizen students to pay in-state/resident tuition fees at California community colleges and universities.  

In State v. Out of State tuition fees comparison: if you are eligible for AB-540 you can have the extra tuition fees waived! 

To qualify for AB-540, you must meet ALL of the requirements listed below:  
  1. *Attendance for 3 years full time at a CA High School, CA Adult School (includes non-credit courses offered through a California Community College), or CA Community College OR Three years of California high school coursework and three years of total attendance at a California elementary school, California secondary school, or any combination of the two. 
  2. Graduated from a California High School or equivalent such as a GED, and  
  3. Submit a signed AB-540 California Nonresident Exemption Request if you meet the above requirements to admissions and records office  
*SB1141 Update: The new bill expands AB-540 eligibility by no longer placing a limit on the number of years of community college full-time attendance a student can use to determine eligibility for AB540. Learn more about SB1141 here. Steps to Apply for AB-540:  
  1. Fill out the AB-540 form:  here
  2. Contact the USSP if you need help filling the form out:  
  3. Submit the completed and signed AB540 form to our Admissions and Records office in person or you can also submit through email here: 
Learn more about AB-540 and eligibility requirements here:  
The California Dream Act – Financial Aid Application   The California Dream Act is a state- based financial aid application open to undocumented students, *DACA recipients (valid or expired), U Visa holders and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, who are AB-540 eligible, Senate Bill 2000 (SB 2000) and Senate Bill 68 (SB 68) to be granted various forms of financial aid such as the following:  
  • Private Scholarships funded through public universities and colleges  
  • State administered financial aid  
  • Grants  
  • Community college fee waivers (CCPG Grant)  
  • Cal Grants 
*DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is not required to apply for the CA Dream Act financial aid application. DACA is a federal program, while CA Dream Act is a state-based financial aid program. 

Steps to Apply for CA Dream Act:  

  1. Apply for the CA Dream Act at 
  2. If necessary, complete any additional application materials required by your school (e.g. CA and College Promise Grants, institutional scholarships, etc.). 
  3. Review and accept award on school’s portal. 
  4. Confirm and accept Cal Grant, if applicable at 
  5. Resolve any outstanding holds on your student portal. 
  6. Ensure AB 540/SB 68 classification is approved by your institution  
Important Deadlines for CA Dream Act:   Application Opens: October 1st, 2022  Suggested Submission Deadline: March 2nd, 2023  *While you can still apply for aid past the suggested deadline, we encourage that you please submit your financial aid application earlier than the March 2nd deadline to benefit from the most aid!  Recursos de Dream Act en Español

What are the benefits of the California Dream Act?

    1. The CA Dream Act allows AB 540/ SB 68 students to apply for:
    2. State-funded grants (including Cal Grants, State grants, UC Grants and the CA College Promise Grant)
    3. State programs such as EOP and EOPS
    4. Certain scholarships administered by the public institution
    5. Financial aid fee deferments, if applicable”

Resources to Help You Apply for the CA Dream Act

Here are some resources that can help you successfully apply for the CA Dream Act

    1. FAFSA vs. CA Dream Act: Apply to the Correct Financial Aid in CA
      Understand the differences between the CA financial aid and the federal financial aid applications to figure out which one best fits your situation to maximize your aid.
    2. For Students Who are Citizens, but Whose Parents Are Undocumented Use this resource to get answers to questions you have about applying for financial aid. All citizens are eligible for federal and state financial aid, regardless of their parents immigration status.
    3. CA Dream Act and Cal Grant Application Checklists
      Use these checklists to ensure you successfully apply for the CA Dream Act and Cal Grants! Don’t miss any steps and apply By March 2 to ensure you are considered for maximum financial aid.
    4. Types of CA Financial Aid
      Learn about the different kinds of financial available to undergraduate and graduate undocumented students at the CCC, CSU, and UC level.
    5. Selective Service Postcard for Undocumented male students, ages 18-25, because they are required to register show proof to their school in order to receive financial aid. Receiving proof can take 6-8 weeks since they cannot sign up online.  Therefore, it is important to complete this step early to avoid delays in their aid disbursement.
    6. Campus-specific resources
      College of the Alameda can help you Apply for the California dream and answer any specific financial aid questions.
      1. COA Steps to Apply for Financial Aid
      2. Financial Aid Hands-On Workshop Schedule
      3. CA Dream Act Application Tutorial for First Time Filer



If a scholarship is worth $1,000 and you spend 10 hours writing an essay and submitting your scholarship application, it can result in $100 per hour invested! Most scholarships have similar prompts, so you can rework the same essay for each application you submit. Use our Scholarship Essay Worksheet to improve your essays and ability to receive multiple awards.

  1. What are scholarships?
    1. Free money to pay for school! Scholarships are an excellent way to pay for college tuition and other expenses.
  2. Who can Apply for Scholarships?
    1. All students can apply and the criteria can vary based on grades, community service, your major, and more. Fortunately there are many scholarships that do not require a social security number, proof of citizenship or legal residency to apply or receive the scholarship.
  3. What are the benefits of applying for scholarships?
    1. Scholarships are different amounts of money you don’t have to pay back which can help you cover educational expenses Such as tuition, books, transportation, living expenses
  4. What are the steps in applying?
    1. Determine If you are eligible for specific scholarship
    2. Complete the application
    3. Submit The application and all requested information stated deadline
    4. Check the scholarship status of your scholarship.
    5. If you win the scholarship, inform your school to determine the next steps in receiving the funds.

Resources to Help YOU Find and Apply for Scholarships

        1. Undergraduate Scholarship List
          Up-to-date listing of scholarships for undergraduate students that don’t require proof of citizenship or legal permanent residency. This list is organized by deadline date and contains scholarships at the local (Bay Area), state, and national level.
        2. Graduate Scholarship List
          Similar listing for graduate studies with scholarships
          at the local (Bay Area), state, and national level.
        3. College of Alameda College Promise

      The College of Alameda Promise Program provides free tuition for 2 years, book stipends, priority registration, and dedicated counseling for eligible students. The program is open to first-time, full-time college students who seek to complete a certificate, degree, and/or plan to transfer to a four-year university. Learn more about COA Promise Program and eligibility here: * The next application cycle opens in April 2023!  

    1. Peralta Colleges Foundation

The Peralta Colleges Foundation is the 501c3 non-profit auxiliary arm of the Peralta Community College District supporting Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt College provide annual scholarships to students; you can learn more about them here: To access the list of scholarships, follow this link: