What Is AB 540?


In-State tuition Expands in California

California State Law AB 540

On October 12, 2001, Governor Gray Davis signed into law Assembly Bill 540 adding a new section, 68130.5, to the California Education Code. Section 68130.5 created a new exemption from the payment of non-resident tuition for certain non-resident students who have attended high school in California and received a high school diploma or its equivalent. AB 2000 expanded the scope of AB  540 in 2014.

AB 540 Requirements for Eligibility

A student may qualify for exemption from nonresident tuition…either by high school attendance in California for three or more years

  • or by either elementary or secondary school attendance,
  • or both in California for a total of 3 or more years and
  • attainment of credits earned in California from a California high school equivalent to 3 or more years of full-time high school coursework and a total of three or more years of attendance in California elementary schools, California secondary schools, or a combination of these schools.
  • Must register or is currently enrolled at an accredited institution of public higher education in California;
  • Must file or will file an affidavit as required by individual institutions, stating that the filer will apply for legal residency as soon as possible;
  • Must not hold a valid non-immigrant visa (F, J, H, L, A, E, etc.)

A student must have graduated from a California high school or have attained the equivalent thereof, such as a High School Equivalency Certificate, issued by the California State GED Office or a Certificate of Proficiency, resulting from the California High School of Proficiency Examination. 


Assembly Bill AB 2000

Beginning January 1, 2015 AB 2000 amended the school attendance requirement of AB 540 and designated that if a student has not attended a California High School for at least three years, that portion of the eligibility criteria may be replaced by the following:

  •  Attainment of three years’ worth of high school credits from a California High School (equivalent to 3 or more years of full-time high school coursework), and
  • A total of 3 or more years of attendance in California elementary or secondary schools, or a combination of those schools (the years do not have to be sequential).

SB 68 expands in-state tuition eligibility in California beyond the current requirements for AB 540 / AB 2000. Due to this new law, more students will now be able to pay in-state tuition at California public colleges and universities (CCCs, CSUs & UCs) and apply for state-based financial aid. 

    Undocumented individuals, T and U visa holders, U.S. citizens, and lawfully present immigrants who meet the eligibility criteria above can apply if their classes were taken in 2001 or after. Individuals with international student visas, visitor visas, or other "non-immigrants" statuses are not eligible to apply. 

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