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SECTION FIVE: FAQ (FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS)

Admissions

1. What are the requirements to go to college as an undocumented student?

Unprotected immigrant students applying as first-time freshmen will be held to the same admissions criteria as California residents from their same high school.  This same provision does not apply to transfer students where a higher transfer GPA is required of non-residents.  The admission criteria for teacher credential and Master’s programs are the same for resident and non-resident students.  There are some exceptions - when a major requires licensing, undocumented students are not eligible to apply.

The Admissions Office will request documents in support of the admission application when needed.  Which transcripts are required and at what point in the application process varies.

Qualifying for Exemption from Out-of-State Tuition

2. How do I change my status to AB 540? Do I need to provide an official transcript?

Students must submit the Student Affidavit for Exemption of Non Resident Tuition (affidavit) and supporting documentation to Enrollment Services to be considered for the non-resident fee waiver after the student is admitted. If the student meets the AB 540 criteria, the residency officer will adjust the status and waive the non-resident tuition fee.

Students who submit an affidavit will be notified via email once their affidavit has been approved. For first-time Freshman applicants, this process may take some time as an affidavit cannot be approved until the final high school transcript has been received and verified. For further information about exemptions call (562) 985-7333 or send an email to es-residency@csulb.edu.

Even though transfer students normally do not need to provide high school transcripts for admissions determination, all students applying for the AB 540 non-resident fee waiver must provide an official high school transcript with their affidavit for AB 540 eligibility.

AB 540 Guidelines & 68130.5 Requirements for Eligibility

  • Must have attended a California High School for 3 or more full academic years (between grades 9 through 12, inclusive and does not need to be consecutive years);
  • Must have or will graduate from a California High School or have attained a G.E.D.; or received a passing mark on the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE);
  • Must register or is currently enrolled at an accredited institution of public higher education in California;
  • Must file or will file an affidavit as required by individual institutions, stating that the filer will apply for legal residency as soon as possible.
  • Must not hold a valid non-immigrant visa (F, J, H, L, A, E, etc.)
3. If I have less than three years of high school and have graduated from a California high school, do I qualify for in-state tuition?

Students with less than three years of high school attendance in California are not eligible for AB 540.  However, if the student meets the first-time freshman or transfer admissions requirements, the student may still be eligible to attend the university, but will have to pay the non-resident tuition.  Non-resident tuition is charged to all U.S. non-California residents and foreign students. Tuition is charged per unit, in addition to applicable State University and Other Mandatory Fees.

(Tuition is subject to change by State Legislative action without notice.)

4. What if I attended adult school? Did not graduate from high school, but I qualify as an upper division transfer?

If a student meets the transfer admissions requirements, he/she will be admitted to the university, but will be charged out-of-state fees if the student does not qualify for AB 540 because he/she did not graduate from a California high school and/or attended adult school.  AB 540 law stipulates the three years of high school attendance and graduation.  Although a GED or a high school diploma can be obtained from an Adult School, the rate of completion is often done at an accelerated pace that does not permit sufficient accrual of classroom time in order to make-up three years of instruction.

5. I was an AB 540 student at my community college. How can I become an AB 540 student at CSULB?

The student needs to complete the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption at CSULB. However, as long as the student is continuously enrolled at CSULB, he will only need to complete the form once.

6. Do I need a SSN? What do I put down on my application if I do not have an SSN?

NO, students are not required to have or use a Social Security number when applying to CSULB. If the student does not have a SSN, he or she should leave the field on the application blank. If there is any doubt, students should contact any individual listed in the Faculty and Staff Resource List in this document.

7. What if I have used a false SSN in the past? What happens if I stated before that I was a citizen and I now want to be an AB 540 student?

Students are advised to always provide true and accurate information to the University because the consequences of providing invalid information can be severe.  If supplying a false SSN did not result in the receipt of benefits or services for which the student was not eligible, correction can be easily done at CSULB by requesting the SSN be deleted from the CSULB record.  If benefits or services were received as a result of providing false information, the situation is obviously much more complex.  According to the CSULB catalog and section 41301 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations, incorrect classification resulting from false or concealed facts is subject to disciplinary action including paying owed non-resident tuition.  Before taking action, identify and consult with a staff and/or faculty member who works with undocumented students.  If possible, also consult with an attorney.

8. What will show up in my transcript if I wrote on my community college application that I am a resident?

CSULB does not use the information on the transcripts to determine California residency nor is it responsible for reporting discrepancies to other institutions. Students must provide complete and accurate information on the Admission Application, and other required documents for an accurate determination of residency.

9. Is graduate admission different at CSULB if I want to use AB 540?

NO, AB 540 criterion is the same for both graduate and undergraduate students. If a student continues at CSULB, he will not have to resubmit high school transcripts or redo the affidavit.

10. Should I apply for the President’s Scholars if I am a valedictorian?

YES, as a valedictorian, undocumented students are encouraged to apply.

11. Can I get into a doctoral or professional programs elsewhere using AB 540?

YES, you can get into masters and doctoral programs at a public California university as long as you meet the admissions criteria. Programs that give preference to state residents are not accessible to AB 540 and other undocumented students.

Paying for College

12. My admissions letter requires a deposit with my admissions acceptance. Do I have to pay?

YES, freshman and transfer students are required to pay a non-refundable enrollment deposit with the admission acceptance. The enrollment deposit is required in order to reserve a space in class.  The admission acceptance and deposit for the fall term must be received by May 1st for freshmen, and June 1st for transfer students. The deposit will offset a portion of the State University Fee (SUF) for the first semester. Since AB 540 and other undocumented students do not receive state or federal financial aid, they must pay the deposit to reserve a place in the class unless they have proof of receiving a scholarship or other third party support that will cover their SUF.

13. Can I receive in-state aid?

YES, AB 540 college students are eligible apply for state financial aid.  A student who regularizes his status through the BCIS (Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services) may be eligible for Federal aid and should inquire with the Office of Financial Aid.

14. Is there an installment plan to pay my tuition? What if I do not have the funds and I need to drop out to work?

YES, CSULB offers an installment plan to pay for tuition. For more details about the installment plan, check with the office of Student Account Services.

15. I paid out-of-state tuition before I knew about AB 540. May I get a refund?

Refund regulations have a set calendar and conditions.  Normally a student must inform the university prior to the first day of instruction in order to qualify for the wavier for that term.

16. May I work on campus? Am I eligible for a paid internship or unpaid internship?

Most students who work on campus are hired as “student assistants” and are paid through public funds, which require residency and a valid social security number.  Undocumented students are not eligible to work for pay that is funded by public funds.

Undocumented students and AB 540 students are not eligible for paid internships, but may participate in unpaid internships.  Contact the Career Development Center to learn about potential internship opportunities.  Students should also contact the Center for Community Engagement about community based unpaid internships and service learning opportunities.

17. The scholarship application states that an SSN is required. Should I bother to apply?

Many scholarship program administrators assume that everyone has an SSN; therefore, it may be worthwhile to inquire if there is a residency or citizenship requirement.  If there is not, then inquire about the use of the ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) number in lieu of the SSN.  Students are encouraged to inquire whether the program has private dollars that may be awarded as scholarships or stipends.

Students without access to public financial aid should consider applying for private scholarship.  Students are encouraged to apply for private aid because staying in school even part-time and maintaining consecutive enrollment is a strong indicator of progress to graduation.  Information on scholarships is available at the Office of Financial Aid and the Associated Students’ Center for Scholarship Information located in the University Student Union 238.  The phone number is (562) 985-2549.  Almost all university-sponsored scholarships do not require an SSN.  Applicants must have an ITIN.

There are websites with scholarship information such as the Tomas Rivera Center interactive website called “College Dollars at http://www.latinocollegedollars.org/; the MALDEF – Scholarship Information at http://maldef.org/

18. At Orientation I was told that I have to pay out-of-state tuition, but I have been in California since I was a child. What can I do?

Inquire whether the student graduated from a California High School and attended the high school for three years.  If this is so, then tell the student how to apply for the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption.  The student should return the completed form (affidavit) and high school transcripts, if the individual is a transfer student, to Enrollment Services.  If the student is a freshman, the high school transcripts will already be in Enrollment Services.

19. Where can I get advice about applying for scholarships?

Students should be encouraged to go to the Center for Scholarship Information, located in the University Student Union, room 238.  The center staff offers individualized assistance to students.  Students should be encouraged to apply for scholarships in lieu of working, as the time invested in writing an application can return many times over in scholarship funds.  Students without a social security number can use the ITIN- Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.  Most applications will not ask for immigration status, but many ask for a social security number or US citizenship.  Students should inquire of the funder if an ITIN will be an acceptable substitute and if citizenship is an absolute requirement.  Often the citizenship requirement may be waived.

Academic Eligibility

20. Are there majors that are not available to me because of my status?

YES, students who are undocumented cannot pursue careers that require background checks or require licensure in order to practice.  Therefore, alternative majors and depending on the major, alternative field placements should be considered.

21. Will my status limit my participation in field and research projects? Should I travel to conferences with campus programs? Will the campus cover me?

If the field or research project is conducted on campus or within close proximity of the university, it should not be a problem.  However, if the field or research project is contingent on having to present work at a student/professional conference then it may pose a problem.  Any long distance travel that involves air or ground transportation involves an element of risk, thus it is advisable that undocumented students consider the risks and benefits of such activities.  Students should consult with a parent or guardian.  Importantly, not all activities requiring travel are obligatory, thus in some cases speaking to the instructor will result in alternative means to fulfill the course requirements.  Students may also want to discuss internship alternatives with the Career Development Center staff.

Students on a campus approved, supervised, and funded activity are generally covered for travel liability.  Campus travel must be under the supervision of a campus faculty, staff member, or Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) staff member.  Travel by individual or group volition is not covered by the university or the ASI.  In general, students are individually responsible for any personal injury or damage.

22. What if my major requires that I be finger printed? Can I pursue a credential or nursing program?

Students who will require a commercial or professional license provided by a local, state or federal government agency in order to engage in an occupation for which the CSU trains them must meet the immigration requirements of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act to achieve licensure. These academic programs, such as nursing and credentials will demand finger printing, a background check and a valid social security number. Students may want to discuss potential alternatives with the Career Development Center or the Academic Advising Center staff.

23. I did everything right to be eligible for college. I did not know I was undocumented. Why even bother?

It is not uncommon for students to experience periods of sadness and depression after they learn that they are undocumented and not eligible for financial aid.  It is also distressing to learn that even after getting a degree they are unable to pursue their career choice upon graduation.  Enrolled students experiencing emotional distress may be referred to the Counseling and Psychological Services.  For most students, reminding them that immigration reform is a cyclical process and that at some point there may be comprehensive immigration reform, including the passage of the Federal DREAM Act (Development, Relief, Education for Alien Minors Act), may be motivating.  They may need an affirmation that a college degree and staying out of trouble will give them a head start on the path to residency and the right to work at some future point.  Often students need to be reminded that an earned degree is theirs forever, and no one can take that away.  Students can also be advised to stay in school to earn a Masters and Doctorate until their status is regularized.

Student Services

24. Am I eligible for University programs and services?

YES, undocumented students are eligible to receive services from almost all University programs.  However, there are some restrictions for programs requiring United States or California residency as part of their eligibility.  At CSULB undocumented students are not eligible for Federal funded programs such as TRIO, Upward Bound, and the College Assistance Migrant Program.

25. What can I do when I take the WPE and ELM if I do not have ID?

Undocumented students who do not have any of the five acceptable identifications (CA driver's license, CA ID card, USA passport, USA military ID or USA naturalization paper) should be encouraged to call Tracy Woodard, Test Officer in Testing and Evaluation Services, 562-985-8383 for an appointment to see the Test Officer prior to the test date.  The Test Officer will review the student’s ID and sign the test site admission letter indicating that the student’s ID has been pre-approved.  The Testing and Evaluation Services often uses student test proctors who may be unfamiliar with ID issues faced by undocumented students, so getting an ID pre-approval will circumvent potential issues at the site.  Test not offered at CSULB may have other identification requirements.  Questions may be directed to the Testing and Evaluation Services.

26. Should I reveal my status to my faculty advisor? Others?

It is always advisable to use caution in disclosing.  In most cases, this will be a personal decision. Generally, people will only reveal personal and private information to their closest friends and confidants.  Most faculty and staff have genuine concern and interest in a student’s well-being.  The individuals listed in the Faculty and Staff Resource List may be individuals with whom students may want to consult.

27. What happens if I drive to school and University police stop me?

Undocumented immigrants cannot obtain a California Driver’s License. Therefore, driving a vehicle without a license is unlawful and can result in a traffic citation, forfeiture of the vehicle and fines. Police will ask for a Driver’s License and any other identification on the driver. If the individual has no license, then the name and date of birth is taken and run through the police computer to check the driver’s records. Campus police will issue a ticket and the disposition of the vehicle will depend on circumstances. If the vehicle is legally parked or can be driven away by an unimpaired, licensed driver, it will not be towed. If this cannot be done, it will be towed and impounded. Vehicles with expired registrations are automatically impounded. University Police are not required to report the citation to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. However, the citation will be reported to the City of Long Beach and a court appearance will be required.

There are instances when campus Police will ask for SSN number. A SSN is requested any time someone is involved in a situation that requires the use of standardized police forms. The forms are used to confirm identity when there is a traffic accident, when someone is a suspect in a criminal case, or when field interviews are conducted, such as when a suspicious person is reported on campus and the police interview the suspicious person. The field interview form asks for name, race, sex, driverís license and SSN. While the campus Police do not enforce federal immigration laws on campus, if a citation is issued, it is reported to the City of Long Beach and all persons, including students have to go to court. It is prudent to consider the potential that a district attorney could conceivably involve Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

28. What happens if I get sick on campus? May I use the health center?

YES, paying the mandatory Health Fee at registration entitles students to receive medical services at the Student Health Center regardless of residency status.

29. What is the point of finishing school if I can’t get a job in my chosen profession?

It is not unusual to feel a sense of hopelessness about the many obstacles that challenge undocumented college students.  The major challenge is often financial, compounded by the difficulty of meeting family responsibilities as the student comes of age.  Students must stay focused on the dream of obtaining a degree.  The likelihood of obtaining residency is optimized if an individual is a college graduate.  Being an educated professional demonstrates that one will be an asset to the USA and will place them in a better position to help their families.

30. Where can I go to find informed advisors about my status?

A number of on-campus offices, have individuals who are informed about the barriers encountered by undocumented students.  See the Faculty and Staff Resource List of the individuals to contact for advice.  Many of the individuals have gone through an AB 540 Ally training program, thus are informed about AB 540 and issues that undocumented students face.

31. I think one of my professors is biased against the undocumented and I am afraid he will discover that I am an AB 540 student. What can I do?

Students in these situations normally assume a low profile.  It is prudent to advise the student that FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protect his or her privacy and restricts the release of certain personal information, including the AB 540 Affidavit.  Students should report alleged bias to the Ombuds Office and/or the Office of Equity and Diversity.

32. My employer has received a “no-match” SSN from the government. Should I quit?

Because work authorization is such a complicated legal issue, university personnel are advised not to give legal or immigration advice to students.  Students may be advised to seek legal counsel when faced with legal questions about the use of social security numbers.

33. Can you help me find an immigration attorney?

Unless you personally know of a systematic and confidential attorney referral service, you may want to suggest that the student call one or more of the local immigration advocacy groups to get a referral.  These include CHIRLA, AALDEF, MALDEF, and others listed in Section Four – Community Support of the AB 540 Resource Guide for Advisors of Undocumented Students.

34. Can I work after I graduate?

NO, the student needs to have legal work authorization, which only the Federal government can award to them once they are on the path to regularize their immigration status.  Students can be advised to pursue a graduate degree, utilizing AB 540.

Changes to Immigration and Residency Status

35. What do if my immigration status has changed and I receive a green card?

If a studentís immigration status changes (i.e. they are now a permanent resident and have been issued a green card), the student must notify the University. The student must go to the General Information window on the first floor of Brotman Hall with their green card.

Note:  Students who become permanent residents still fall under AB 540 until they meet the criteria to reclassify their residency status (usually after being a permanent resident for 1 year). Residence Reclassification Request.

Please see the University Catalog to learn more about the determination of resident status. You may also contact the Residence Specialist at (562) 985-7333 or es-residency@csulb.edu.

36. How do I change my residency status?

Once a student qualifies as a resident, they can file a Residence Reclassification Request.

Please see the University Catalog to learn more about the determination of resident status. You may also contact the Residence Specialist at (562) 985-7333 or es-residency@csulb.edu

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