The California Dream Act allows undocumented students who meet certain provisions of Assembly Bill 540 (AB540) to apply for and receive state and institutional financial aid at California colleges and universities. 

Better FAFSA, Better CADAA Frequently Asked Questions

How to Apply

Submit the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) to the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) online.
Be sure to list the Merced College school code, 00123700, on your CADAA. Before you start the actual application, you will be prompted to create an account username and password. If you are a dependent student, at least one parent will need to create a PIN to sign which will be a 4 digit number given to you by CSAC. 
The California Student Aid Commission analyzes and summarizes the information you will provide on the CADAA and creates your Student Aid Report (SAR). You will receive an email once your CADAA has been successfully processed. 

Submit the AB540 application to Admissions & Records. Find the AB540 application on our undocumented students page.

AB540 Requirements: 

  • Attend a California high school for a minimum of three years OR Graduated early from a California high school with the equivalent of at least three years of credits; 
  • Graduate from a California high school or pass the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) or get a General Equivalency Diploma (GED); 
  • If applicable, fill out an affidavit to legalize immigration status as soon as eligible. 

If you have questions about the AB540 application process, contact Carmela Balcazar at [email protected] or (209) 384-6197 

Starting 2024-2025

AB 1540 (M. Fong)

This bill requires community colleges to accept an affidavit provided to the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) as part of the student’s financial aid application to determine a student’s eligibility for a nonresident tuition exemption under AB 540 (Firebaugh, 2001). The bill amends Education Code Section 68130.5.

Check your Merced College student email often. You will receive an email regarding your next steps to your Merced College student email account from the Financial Aid Office once your CADAA information has been received. 

Submit all required documents and keep checking your student email. You will receive a link to the verification system via email where additional documents need to be submitted. The link is login with your Merced College portal username and password.

Create Your Account

This is a one-time account creation. You will be asked for some basic information when creating your account. This information is used to validate your identity so that your electronic signature can be used on future forms.

Four Easy Steps:

  1. Go to 
  2. Login with your Merced College Portal Username and Password 
  3. Enter/confirm your student information 
  4. Click ‘Register Account’ button 

Once your account is created, any required tasks you need to complete will become available.

Once you submit all documentation, the Financial Aid Office will review your file and e-mail you upon completion. 

Login into your student portal to display your current award

Frequently Asked Questions

The California Dream Act allows undocumented students, DACA recipients (valid or expired), U Visa holders and students under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), who qualify for a non-resident exemption under Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540), Senate Bill 2000 (SB 2000) and Senate Bill 68 (SB 68), to receive certain types of financial aid such as: private scholarships funded through public universities, state administered financial aid, university grants, community college fee waivers, and Cal Grants. In addition, the California Dream Act, allows eligible students to pay in-state tuition at any public college in California.

Students who live in California and meet the eligibility requirements for a non-resident exemption, as well as students who have a U Visa or TPS status, can use the California Dream Act application (CADAA). Similarly, students without Social Security Numbers or students who have lost DACA status (or never applied for DACA), may still be eligible. The full language of the law and eligibility requirements is stated in CA Education Code 68130.5.

Students should only complete one of the applications (not both), according to the citizenship requirements below:

  1. You are eligible to complete the FAFSA at if you are a: • U.S Citizen • Permanent Resident • Eligible non-citizen • T Visa holder
  2. You are eligible to complete the CADAA at if you are: • Undocumented • Have a valid or expired DACA • U Visa holders • Have Temporary Protected Status (TPS) 2 | Pa g e Revised 11/21 • Meet the non-resident exemption requirements under AB 540, SB 2000, SB 68