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How to Apply - Nonresident Tuition Fees Exemption - (AB540)

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Nonresident Tuition Fees Exemption

Effective January 1, 2002, Assembly Bill (540) created an exemption from payment of nonresident tuition fees for nonresident students. AB2000 has amened AB540 criteria. Please also visit www.sfsu.edu/~finaid/ab540/ for complete information on AB540.


  1. If you have attended a California high school for three or more years AND you’ve graduated from a California high school (AB 540)
  2. If you have attained credits earned in California from a California high school equivalent to three or more years of full time high school course work and attended a combination of elementary, middle and/or high school in California for three or more years, AND you’ve graduated from a California high school (AB 2000)
  3. Those that hold non-immigrant visas are not eligible for the non-resident exemption, with the exception of those holding T or U visas
  4. Must not hold a valid non-immigrant visa (F, J, H, L, A, E, etc.)

Students who meet the criteria above are strongly encouraged to complete the following affidavit as soon as they have declared their intent to attend an institution.


A student must complete the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Form (AB540 form) prior to the first day of instruction. The form with instructions is available online or at the One Stop Student Center in the Student Services Building.

  • Print the affidavit, fill it out completely, and sign it.
  • Make a copy of the AB 540 for your records and send the original to SFSU
  • Make a copy of the AB 540 affidavit for your records and send the original to SFSU
  • The completed affidavit form may be submitted in person at the One Stop Student Center in the Student Services Building, or mailed to the attention of the SFSU Undergraduate Admission Office (for undergraduates) or the SFSU Graduate Division Office (for graduate students).

Deadline: The completed affidavit and any supporting documents should be submitted prior to the first day of instruction for the initial semester of the AB 540 request.

Please note: If you are currently in high school and applying to SFSU as a freshman, wait until after you’ve graduated and your date of graduation is posted on your transcript before sending it. We cannot grant you the AB 540 exemption until you can show proof that you’ve graduated from a CA high school.

How to Pay Fees Before You’ve Been Granted the Non-resident Tuition Exemption

If you’re an incoming freshman and have not been granted the AB 540 non-resident tuition exemption by the time you need to register for classes because you haven’t been able to submit a final official transcript as proof of graduation, you can take a copy of the AB 540 you completed to the Bursar’s office to show as proof that you are applying for the exemption from nonresident fees and should only be charged resident fees at this time. Contact the Bursar’s office at 415-338-1281 for more information.

Exemption from Nonresident Tuition Fees (AB 540)

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is AB 540? On October 11, 2001, Governor Gray Davis signed Assembly Bill 540 (now Education Code Section 68130.5) creating a new exemption from nonresident tuition fees for any student who meets ALL of the following criteria:
    • a. attended high school in California (public or private) for 3 or more years;
    • b. graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent prior to the start of the admission term at SFSU (for example: passed the GED or California High School Proficiency exam);
    • d. Please Note: A student who is without lawful immigration status must file an AB540 affidavit with the campus stating 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.
  2. When did the law take effect? January 2, 2002
  3. Are U.S. citizens who are current residents of other states but meet all the eligibility criteria able to apply for AB 540? Yes. AB 540 is for any incoming student who has attended a CA high school for 3 years or more, and graduated from that high school. Being a U.S. citizen does not preclude you from applying for the exemption.
  4. Do students need to file a new affidavit each semester they enroll? No. Students providing an affidavit are not required to submit a new affidavit for any future term of continuous enrollment after the original affidavit is submitted. A break in continuous enrollment will require completion of a new affidavit.
  5. Does the exemption apply to students holding valid non-immigrant (temporary) visas? No. If you have an F, J, H, L or other temporary visa you are legally ineligible for the AB 540 exemption.
  6. Are students covered under this exemption eligible to receive State University Grants(SUG)? Yes. The California Dream Act of 2011 allows students who meet AB540 criteria to apply for and receive certain state and institutional financial assistance programs.
  7. What other assistance is available under the California Dream Act of 2011? AB131 allows student who qualify under AB540 to apply for and receive state-funded financial aid such as institutional grants, community college fee waivers, Cal Grant and Chafee Grant. This law takes effect on January 1, 2013. As such, eligible AB540 students at San Francisco State University who complete the Dream Application will be considered for funding based on meeting the priority deadline and financial needs guidelines.
  8. How do I apply for aid under the California Dream Act? Eligible AB540 students at San Francisco State University who complete the Dream Application will be considered for state financial aid. To apply, complete the Dream Application which will collect basic personal and income information to determine student eligibility for funding under AB131. Students will need to complete the Dream Application every year to determine eligibility for state financial aid. After your application is submitted and reviewed by SF State, the Office of Student Financial Aid will contact you via email. Visit the Student Financial Aid Office website for more information at: www.sfsu.edu/~finaid/ab540/caldreamact.html#applydream
  9. Are students covered under this exemption eligible to receive federal and other forms of financial aid? Federal financial aid requires proof of citizenship or permanent resident status. Requirements for federal financial aid are determined by federal regulations. However, citizenship criteria for specific stipends, internships, or scholarships are determined by the agency handling the application and selection process.
  10. Are students covered under this exemption eligible to receive a waiver of the application fee based on qualifying financial status? Yes. Fill out the Certification of US Citizenship or Immigration Status portion of the CSU Fee Waiver and if you meet the criteria for AB540 eligibility you may have your admission application fee waived.
  11. Are students covered under the AB540 exemption eligible to participate in programs that require residency? No. Students are only exempted from paying nonresident tuition fees, but are not classified as residents for eligibility purposes for state-funded programs that require CA residency classification. However, this policy does not apply to the Educational Opportunity Program at SFSU which is now taking AB540 eligible students as of the Fall 2013 semester.
  12. What happens if the certification provided by a student is later determined to be false? The student will be liable for the repayment of the difference between resident and nonresident tuition fees that would have been applicable for all terms of attendance. The student may also be subject to disciplinary proceedings.
  13. What happens to the information obtained in the implementation of this law? The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 requires that all information obtained in the implementation of AB 540 remain a confidential portion of the students' permanent record. For audit purposes, the original documents must be maintained for at least five years, however SFSU is prohibited by federal law from sharing your information with any third party, including other state or federal agencies such as the Department of Immigration and Naturalization (INS), now known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  14. 16. What if a student’s citizenship, immigration and/or residence status changes after he or she has been granted the AB 540 Exemption? If your citizenship or immigration changes you can send a copy of your new immigration or citizenship papers to Undergraduate Admissions if you’re an undergraduate or the Graduate Division if you’re a graduate student and we’ll update your status in the system. If you’d like to be considered for reclassification as a resident you should apply for residence reclassification, which is a separate process from changing your citizenship/immigration status. To learn more about residence reclassification visit the residency page.

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