AB 540 Terminology

Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) - You or your family's wages, salaries, interest, dividends, etc., minus certain deductions from income as reported on a federal income tax return. Commonly referred to as AGI.

Cal Grant - A financial aid program administrated by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) providing aid to California undergraduates, vocational training students, and those in teacher certification programs. Cal Grants are the largest source of California state funded student financial aid.  Cal Grants are awarded to undocumented students who qualify under AB 540 criteria and have completed the Dream Act application.

Cost of Attendance (COA) - The total amount it will cost you to go to school—usually stated as a yearly figure. COA includes tuition and fees; room and board (or a housing and food allowance); and allowances for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and dependent care. It also includes miscellaneous and personal expenses, including an allowance for the rental or purchase of a personal computer; costs related to a disability; and reasonable costs for eligible study-abroad programs.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)is a policy (not law) from the Federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced by the Obama Administration on June 15, 2012. It defers the removal of certain eligible undocumented youths and allow them to apply for work authorization if they are granted DACA. The requirements are: were under the age of 31 as of 06/15/2012; entered the United States before age 16; have continuously resided in the country since 06/15/2007, up to the present time; physical presence in the US on 6/15/12; entry without inspection or lawful immigration status expired as of 6/15/12; are currently in school, graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, obtained a GED certificate, or are an honorable discharged veteran of the Armed Forces/Coast Guard; have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, 3 or more other misdemeanors, and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.  Establishes that certain individuals who arrive in the U.S. as children may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization. The Secretary of Homeland Security makes these determinations on a case-by-case basis.

Dependent Student - A student who does not meet any of the criteria for an independent student. An independent student is one of the following: at least 24 years old, married, a graduate or professional student, a veteran, a member of the armed forces, an orphan, a ward of the court, someone with legal dependents other than a spouse, an emancipated minor or someone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. 

Dreamer — Refers to undocumented students who benefit from the DREAM Act. Dreamer is commonly used by students who connect with the DREAM Act movement and as a way to navigate away from the negative connotations given to terms such as undocumented, immigrant, and non-U.S. citizen.

Eligible Noncitizen - A U.S. national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swains Island), U.S. permanent resident (who has an I-151, I-551 or I-551C [Permanent Resident Card]), or an individual who has an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing one of the following designations:

  • "Refugee" 
  • "Asylum Granted" 
  • "Cuban-Haitian Entrant (Status Pending)"
  • "Conditional Entrant" (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980) 
  • Victims of human trafficking, T-visa (T-2, T-3, or T-4, etc.) holder 
  • "Parolee" (You must be paroled into the United States for at least one year and you must be able to provide evidence from the USCIS that you are in the United States for other than a temporary purpose and that you intend to become a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.) 

If you meet the noncitizen criteria above, you are eligible to receive federal student aid. 

Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS): is a state funded program in the California Community Colleges designed to provide counseling, retention and support services to increase college enrollment for those individuals who have previously not considered college as an option. EOPS strives to alleviate the educational barriers that preclude many students from college attendance.

Independent Student - An independent student is one of the following: at least 24 years old, married, a graduate or professional student, a veteran, a member of the armed forces, an orphan, a ward of the court, or someone with legal dependents other than a spouse, an emancipated minor or someone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

International student — Includes any student who currently holds a visa of any type or is seeking a visa. Undocumented students are not considered international applicants because many do not qualify for a visa and, therefore, do not have to go through the international admission process.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITN):a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service and are issued regardless of immigration status are used for federal tax reporting only, and are not intended to serve any other purpose.

Legal citizenship — Obtained by individuals who are residing in the U.S. legally due to the attainment of permanent residency or citizenship through a visa or green card. These individuals obtain a social security number (SSN).

Non-citizen —Applies to students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, do not hold a valid visa, or are not seeking a visa for study or documentation for residency in the U.S.

Overstayed visa — Refers to individuals who have stayed in the U.S. after their tourist, visitor, or student visa has expired.

Satisfactory Academic Progress - A school’s standards for satisfactory academic progress toward a degree or certificate offered by that institution.

Scholarship - Money awarded to students based on academic or other achievements to help pay for education expenses.  Scholarships generally do not have to be repaid. 

Undocumented student — Refers to students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, do not hold a visa, or have not applied for legal residency. Undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid.

Undocumented Immigrant - A person who is residing in the U.S. without the permission of the U.S. government. Undocumented immigrants enter the U.S. either illegally, without being inspected by an immigration officer or by using false documents, or legally, with a temporary visa and then remain in the U.S. after the visa has expired.