What is AB 540?

CA Assembly Bill AB 540 is a California law passed in 2001 that exempts students (including undocumented students) who meet eligibility requirements from out-of-state tuition fees.  In 2014, AB 540 was expanded through AB 2000.  It was further expanded in 2017, through SB 68, to include adult schools and CA Community Colleges (non-credit and credit classes) attendance and other graduation or degree requirements.

Qualifying for AB 540/SB 68 provides students with the ability to pay resident fees and apply for the state-based financial aid through the CA Dream Act, if eligible.

Tuition & Fees

Effective, Summer 2020, the difference between California non-resident and resident tuition at Merritt College is as follows:

Costs Non-resident CA resident
Non-resident Tuition $290.00/unit $0
Enrollment Fee $46.00/unit $46.00/unit
Total Cost/Unit $336.00/unit $46.00/unit
Total cost for 12 units $4,065.00 $585.00

(Including additional student fees)

Who qualifies for AB 540/AB 2000/SB 68?

In order to qualify for AB 540/AB 2000/SB 68 status in California, the student must meet ALL of the following four requirements:

Requirement 1: Attendance at California schools. This requirement may be met in either of the following two ways:

  1. A) Total attendance (or attainment of credits earned) in California equivalent to three or more years of full-time attendance at California high schoolsCalifornia adult schools**, campuses of the California Community Colleges*, or a combination of these.


  1. B) Three or more years of full-time California high school coursework, and a total of three or more years of attendance in California elementary schools, California secondary schools, or a combination of California elementary and secondary schools.

*Note – Full-time attendance at a California community college means either 12 units of credit per semester (or quarter equivalent per year) or a minimum of 420 class hours per year (or semester or quarter equivalent per year) in non-credit courses. Attendance in credit courses at a California community college counted towards this requirement shall not exceed a total of two years of full-time attendance.

**Note – Full-time attendance at a California adult school means a minimum of 420 class hours of attendance for each school year in classes or courses authorized by Education Code.

Requirement 2: Completion of a course of study. This requirement may be met in any of the following three ways:

  1. A) Graduation from a California high school or equivalent (such as a GED);


  1. B) Attainment of an associate degree from a California Community College;


  1. C) Fulfillment of the minimum transfer requirements established for the University of California or the California State University for students transferring from a California community college.

Requirement 3: Registration. Requires registration as an entering student at, or current enrollment at, an accredited institution of higher education in California.

Requirement 4: Affidavit of student without lawful immigration status. Students without lawful immigration status must file an affidavit with their college or university stating that the student has either 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.

Merritt College will not release any personally identifiable student information, including any data related to immigration status, without a judicial warrant, subpoena or court order, unless authorized by the student or required by law.

How to Apply?

In order to qualify for AB 540 status, students must submit the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request form  to Merritt College’s Office of Admissions & Records* along with official transcripts/attendance records (high school, adult school, and/or community college) that verify requirements 1 and 2 listed above.

  • If you are currently a high school senior who will qualify for AB 540 upon graduation from high school, you may submit the AB 540 affidavit along with an in-progress high school transcript to Admissions & Records during the spring semester prior to graduation.*  You will need to follow-up by submitting a final high school transcript showing your graduation date to Admissions & Records prior to August 1st to avoid registration and financial aid delays.

For assistance, please use the Immigrants Rising online California In-State Tuition Tool or email the ASPIRA Center at aspira.merrit@peralta.edu to help you figure out if you may qualify. We are happy to assist you with this process!

Qualifying for AB 540/AB 2000/SB 68 provides students with the ability to pay resident fees and apply for the state-based financial aid through the CA Dream Act, if eligible.