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Admitted Graduate Students

Welcome, Triton! We are happy to hear that you decided to make UC San Diego your home for your graduate studies. 

Before you explore other areas of our website and learn about the programs and services we offer, there are two things you need to make sure you do if you haven’t done so already.  

As an undocumented student in a graduate or professional program at UC San Diego, we recommend that you apply for AB540 classification and submit a California Dream Act Financial Aid application. This is optional, but at UC San Diego, it will make you eligible for Dream Loans and other potential student aid sources only available to those with AB540 and a CA Dream Act financial aid application on file. 

Are you eligible for AB540 classification?

Undocumented must meet all three requirements below to be eligible:

  1. Time and coursework requirement


  • Attendance for three full-time years or the equivalent at any combination of the following:
    • California high school
    • California adult school (including non-credit courses offered by a California community college)
    • California community college (maximum of two years of credit-bearing courses can count toward this requirement)


  • 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.
  1. Degree or unit requirement

Meet one of the following requirements:

  • Graduation from a California high school (or attainment of the equivalent)
  • Attainment of an associate’s degree from a California community college
  • Fulfillment of the minimum transfer requirements from a California community college to a UC or CSU campus
  1. Sign Nonresident Exemption Request

Submit a signed California Nonresident Exemption Request (AB540 application), which states that you meet all the requirements to qualify for AB 540 status and whether you are undocumented, are in the process of adjusting your immigration status, or will do so as soon as you are eligible.

Who’s not eligible for AB540:

Students in possession of nonimmigrant visas (including, but not limited to any of the following visas: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T*, TN/TD, TWOV, U*, and NATO) are not eligible for AB540. 

*Exceptions for holders of T and U visas

UC policy permits T and U visa holders with approved I-485 applications who meet the requirements described above to be exempt from nonresident supplemental tuition until they are eligible to establish California residency according to UC policy.

DACA recipients who do not meet the AB 540 tuition requirements, listed above, will not be eligible for the exemption.

Steps to apply for AB540 classification

  1. After you have accepted an offer of admission to UC San Diego, complete your Statement of Legal Residence form for Residence Deputy review. *Note: Undergraduate students will be required to complete all applicable residency forms in their UCSD Applicant Portal before accepting their offer of admission. 
  2. Your Statement of Legal Residence will be evaluated by a campus residence deputy. If applicable, you will be asked to complete a California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request (AB540 Affidavit) to determine your eligibility for the AB540 exemption. Be prepared to prove with documentation that you meet the eligibility requirements discussed above. 

If the residency deputy grants you AB540 classification, you will not need to reapply as long as your visa or immigration status does not change, and you are continuously enrolled in the program to which you have been admitted at a UC campus. 

Where do I submit my AB 540 application? You have three options. 

Where you will submit your Statement of Legal Residence and AB540 Affidavit depends on your class-level. 

  • Undergraduate Students: Please complete all residency forms assigned to you in your UCSD Applicant Portal. Upload your AB540 Affidavit under the “Upload Materials” section in your portal if applicable. 
  • Graduate Students: Please complete your Statement of Legal Residence in your Applicant Portal and email your AB540 Affidavit to Be sure to include your PID in your correspondence. 
  • For graduate programs that do not have an Applicant Portal, please email your Statement of Legal Residence and AB540 Affidavit to Be sure to include your PID in your correspondence. 
  • Medical and Pharmacy: Please email your Statement of Legal Residence and AB540 Affidavit to Be sure to include your PID in your correspondence. 

Submit CA Dream Act App to access Dream Loans

You must file a California Dream Act Application each academic year to be considered for financial aid. We recommend that you submit your application sometime in the summer months before the start of the new academic year.

The CA Dream Act application will ask you for the code for the school you want the application to be sent to. The UC San Diego school code is 001317.

Ready to apply? Here’s the app and here’s a helpful checklist our friends at Immigrants Rising put together. 

Note: The California Dream Act Application requires the previous year’s tax information. You may need to verify your tax information with an IRS Tax Transcript. The Financial Aid and Scholarships Office may ask you for additional documents after you file your California Dream Act Application. Check your UC San Diego email often, and make sure you submit any additional documents or clear any California Dream Act Application rejections by the published deadlines.

What exactly are Dream Loans?

Currently, undocumented students with AB540 status and meet the California Dream Act requirements are eligible for state and university aid, but ineligible for federal aid (including federal loans). The DREAM loan program, funded by the state and UC, aims to close that gap and provide eligible students with the opportunity to borrow student loans to help pay for their education.

How do the Dream Loans work (simplified)

  • A loan is borrowed money (you may hear terms like "borrowing" or "taking out loans" ) that you have to pay back with interest. The Dream Loan is no different.
  • Each UC campus determines the amount a student can borrow based on available funding and the number of eligible students. The maximum amount of a loan is capped at $4,000 each year, per student – but again, this is dependent on program funding. 
  • You can borrow every year you're an eligible student at UC or until you receive a maximum of $20,000 in DREAM loans.
  • The DREAM Loan interest rate is 5.50% in 2023-24 (matches the Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan). If you borrow through the DREAM loan program in 2023-24, the interest rate will not change for that loan. However, the interest rate for future loans may be different.
  • Interest will not accrue on the loan as long as you're a student enrolled at least half the time.
  • Once you graduate (or you cease being at least a half-time student), there is a 6-month "grace period" before you have to start paying back the loan.

How do I know if I was approved for a Dream Loan?

Good question! If you are approved for AB540 and after submitting a CA Dream Act application, you need to contact Rashinda Hutchinson in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships to confirm they have your CA Dream Act application and ask when you can expect the loan to be made available to you. Note that the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office will not provide you a Dream Loan unless you are approved for AB540.

Still have questions? Confused about something you saw on the application? Get in touch with Rashinda Hutchinson in our Financial Aid and Scholarships Office!