Questions, answers and contacts for more information about the University of California Tuition Exemption (AB 540).
Impact of the tuition exemption on fees
- What fees are covered by the tuition exemption?
- If I believe I am eligible for the tuition exemption, will I be required to pay the Nonresident Tuition Fee charged to nonresidents?
Eligibility and definitions
- What are the criteria to qualify for this tuition exemption?
- Is 9th grade included in the definition of "high school" if it is included as part of a middle school?
- Does the high school enrollment have to be at the same California school and for three consecutive years?
- What constitutes "has graduated from a California high school or has attained the equivalent thereof"?
- Does it matter how far in the past a student graduated from high school to be eligible for the tuition exemption?
- Are only entering freshmen eligible for the tuition exemption?
- Are "home-schooled" students eligible?
- Can students living out-of-state enroll in a private California "Internet high school," complete their course work via distance learning or correspondence, and meet the California high school enrollment and graduation requirement?
- Does this new policy change a student's eligibility to receive financial aid?
- Does this new policy change a student’s residency status?
- Is there a maximum number of years for which I am eligible to receive this exemption?
Applying for the tuition exemption
- Will campuses automatically know which students qualify for the tuition exemption and apply it to their nonresident charges?
- If I received this exemption while attending a California State College (CSU) or a California Community College (CCC) campus or another California institution, do I need to apply for the exemption at UC?
Who is potentially eligible for this new benefit?
Domestic students who, for various reasons, are classified as nonresidents, as well as undocumented students, may be eligible. An example of a potentially eligible nonresident domestic student is one who attended a California high school, but their parents did not have legal state residency or did not live in California or later moved away. Students who met in-state criteria and then established residency in another state, but are now returning to California to pursue a graduate degree, may also be eligible for the tuition exemption. The exemption applies to both undergraduate and graduate students.
IMPACT OF THE TUITION EXEMPTION ON FEES
What fees are covered by the tuition exemption?
The tuition exemption covers Nonresident Tuition as well as the additional Educational Fee that is charged to nonresidents. Using the amounts charged in 2010-2011 as an example, eligible undergraduates pay $22,878 less in annual nonresident tuition charges. During 2010- 2011, graduate students eligible for AB 540 pay an $15,102 less in annual nonresident tuition charges.
If I believe I am eligible for the tuition exemption, will I be required to pay Nonresident Tuition?
Students will be required to pay all non-resident tuition by the campus's payment deadline unless, prior to their due date, the student has applied and has been deemed by the campus to be eligible for the exemption. Students who pay the nonresident tuition but are subsequently determined to be eligible for the exemption for that term will receive a credit equal to the amounts paid that are covered by the exemption.
ELIGIBILITY & DEFINITIONS
What are the criteria to qualify for this tuition exemption?
To be eligible for the tuition exemption, the student must have:
a) Attended a high school in California for three or more years; and
b) Graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent thereof; and
c) Enrolled, or is registering to be enrolled, at the University of California after Jan. 1, 2002.
Note that as of 2006, graduation from a California public high school required passage of the California High School Exit Exam, or CAHSEE.
Non-immigrant students are not eligible for this exemption. Non-immigrants, as defined by federal immigration law, may hold one of the following visas: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, TN, TD and V, and TROV and NATO. (This list of visa types is illustrative, not exhaustive.)
All students applying for this exemption must sign an affidavit. If a student is without lawful immigration status, the student must state that he or she has 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.
Is 9th grade included in the definition of "high school" if it is included as part of a middle school?
Yes. For purposes of eligibility for the tuition exemption, enrollment in the 9th grade, whether at a middle or a high school, counts toward the California high school attendance criterion.
Does the high school enrollment have to be at the same California school and for three consecutive years?
No. The three years for a student's 9th through 12th grades need not be consecutive or completed at a single California school. For example, if a student attended 9th grade at a California middle or high school, left the state to attend 10th grade in another state, and returned to a second qualified California high school to complete 11th and 12th grades, that student would still meet the requirement of three years of high school attendance in California.
What constitutes "has graduated from a California high school or has attained the equivalent thereof"?
The three possibilities include the following:
a. A diploma from a California high school;
b. A High School Equivalency Certificate, issued by the California State GED Office; or
c. A Certificate of Proficiency, resulting from the California High School Proficiency Examination.
Does it matter how far in the past a student graduated from high school to be eligible for the tuition exemption?
No. It does not matter how long ago the student graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent thereof.
Are "home-schooled" students eligible?
A student who is "home-schooled" by a parent who does not hold a California teacher credential is not eligible, because that "school" would not meet the exemption definition of a "high school in California." The University will review on a case-by-case basis AB 540 applications from California home-schooled students to determine if they qualify for the exemption.
Can students living out-of-state enroll in a private California "Internet high school," complete their course work via distance learning or correspondence, and meet the California high school enrollment and graduation requirement?
No. This type of private school would not meet the requirements of Section 48222 of the California Education Code, which defines a "high school in California" for the purposes of exemption eligibility.
Does this new policy change a student's eligibility to receive financial aid?
Yes, California state laws AB 103 and AB 131 authorize UC to award institutional aid and the California Student Aid Commission to award Cal Grants to certain non-resident students who meet the criteria for AB 540. If the exemption is granted, it could impact the amount and possibly type of financial aid that an AB 540 student might receive. Learn more
Please note that undocumented students are not currently eligible for federal financial aid under federal law. This does not change if the student qualifies for an AB 540 tuition exemption.
No. There is no cap on the maximum number of years one can receive this exemption. Eligibility continues as long as the student fulfills the eligibility requirements or until the University no longer offers this exemption.
APPLYING FOR THE TUITION EXEMPTION
Will campuses automatically know which students qualify for the tuition exemption and apply it to their nonresident charges?
No. Students will be asked to complete a Statement of Legal Residence; students who are classified as non-residents may request an AB 540 application and affidavit. Until students self-identify and apply for the tuition exemption, the campus will not know which students qualify. However, once a student has been deemed eligible, that student need not reapply to that campus while continuously enrolled.
If I received this AB 540 exemption while attending a California State College (CSU) or a California Community College (CCC) campus, or if I am deemed to meet the AB 540 eligibility requirements while enrolled in another California institution, do I need to apply for the exemption at UC?
Yes. Information about specific student eligibility for this exemption is not shared among the California public higher education systems; thus, a student who was declared eligible for AB 540 status at another California college or university needs to self identify again once enrolled at UC. Moreover, UC determines eligibility for this exemption independently of prior determinations made by other California institutions.