Completing the DREAM Application is the first step toward getting financial aid for college.
The California Dream Act of 2011 allows students who meet AB540 criteria to apply for and receive funds from certain state and institutional financial aid programs. Completing and submitting the DREAM Application is free and quick, and it gives you access to California State and CSULB financial aid programs. In addition, your DREAM Application is used by some scholarship providers to determine whether you qualify for their awards.
The DREAM Application becomes available every October 1 and the deadline to apply is March 2. If you miss the DREAM Application Deadline, you will miss your opportunity to be considered for CA State and CSULB Institutional financial aid for the year.
Eligibility for DREAM
In order to be eligible for funding through the DREAM Application, you must meet the AB540 criteria:
- You must have attended a high school (public or private) in California for three or more years, AND
- You must have graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent prior to the start of the term (i.e., passed the GED or California High School Proficiency exam), AND
- Enroll in an accredited California Institution of Higher Education
- In the case of students without legal immigration status, file an AB540 Affidavit (California Non-Resident Tuition Exemption Request Form) (pdf), with the Admissions/Registrar’s Office 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).
NOTE: Males between the ages of 18 – 25 are required to register with Selective Service.
- If you have a Social Security Number, you can also register online at the Selective Service website
- If you don’t have a Social Security Number, you can mail your registration form (PDF)
For more information on DREAM eligibility – visit the California Student Aid Commission’s DREAM Website.
The DREAM Application asks for important personal identification information as well as financial information. You may be asked to provide identification and financial information for your parents as well.
You should have the following information and documents with you as you fill out your Dream Application:
- Your Social Security Number (if you have one)
- Your Driver’s License number (if you have one)
- Your parent’s Social Security Numbers (if they have one) – if parent information is required on the application.
- Federal Tax information or tax returns – including IRS W-2 information for you (and your spouse if married), and for your parents if parent information is required on the application.
- Records of your untaxed income, such as child support received, interest income, and veterans non-education benefits for you and for your parents if parent information is required on the application.
- Information on cash, savings, and checking account balances; investments – including real estate (not including the home in which you live); and business and farm assets for you, and for your parents if
parent information is required on the application.
Be sure to use the exact name and date of birth on the DREAM Application that you use on your Admissions Application!
Specific DREAM Application Responses for Credential Students
Credential students are considered 5th year undergraduates for financial aid purposes.
To ensure all needed information is provided on the application, and to avoid delays in the processing of your financial aid file, please answer the following questions on the DREAM Application as indicated below:
Question: What will your college grade level be when you begin the school year?
Select response: 5th year/other undergraduate
Question: What degree or certificate will you be working on when you begin the school year?
Select response: Teaching credential (nondegree program)
Question: At the beginning of the school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, graduate certificate, etc.)?
Select response: No
Determining Your Residency Status
All applicants for financial aid are considered either “independent” or “dependent.” Dependent students are required to include information about their parents on the application. By answering a few questions, you can get a good idea of which category you fit into.
You are considered an Independent Student if any one of the following applies to you:
- You are or will be 24 years of age or older by December 31 of the award year, or
- You are married, or
- You have children or dependents for whom you provide at least 50% of the support for, or
- You are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, having served on active duty, or
- You are a ward of the court or both of your parents are deceased.
If none of the conditions above apply to you, you are considered a Dependent Student for financial aid purposes and must supply information about your parents on your DREAM Application.
Reporting Parent Information
If you’re a dependent student, you’ll need to report parent information on your DREAM Application.
Below are some guidelines to help you with the information that will be needed:
- If your legal parents (your biological and/or adoptive parents, or parents as determined by the state—e.g., a parent listed on your birth certificate) are married to each other, answer the questions about both of them, regardless of whether your parents are of the same or opposite sex.
- If your legal parents are not married to each other and live together, answer the questions about both of them, regardless of whether your parents are of the same or opposite sex.
- If your legal parent is widowed or was never married, answer the questions about that parent.
- If your parents are divorced or separated and don’t live together, answer the questions about the parent with whom you lived more during the past 12 months.
- If you lived the same amount of time with each divorced or separated parent, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months or during the most recent 12 months that you actually received support from a parent.
Divorced or Separated Parents Who Live Together
- If your divorced parents live together, you’ll indicate their marital status as “Unmarried and both parents living together,” and you will answer questions about both of them on your DREAM application.
- If your separated parents live together, you’ll indicate their marital status as “Married or remarried”(NOT “Divorced or separated”), and you will answer questions about both of them on your DREAM application.
What if I live with someone other than my parents?
It doesn’t matter if you don’t live with your parent or parents; if you are a Dependent Student, you still must report information about them. The following people are not your parents unless they have legally adopted you: grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, older brothers or sisters, uncles or aunts, and widowed stepparents.
What kind of information must my parents provide for the DREAM Application?
For each parent, you’ll report similar information to that you report for yourself: basic information about your parent’s identity (e.g., name, Social Security number–if he or she has one, date of birth); living situation (e.g., marital status, state of residence, household size); and financial circumstances (e.g., tax information, certain assets, certain untaxed income).
Parent Signature on Your DREAM Application
After you have completed the DREAM Application, you (and your parent – if Dependent) will need to sign the application.
If parent information was required, navigate to the link on the CA Dream Act website that says “Sign Student Application.” Your parent must create a Parent PIN and answer the verification questions if they do not already have a CSAC Parent PIN. Your parent will be issued a 4-digit electronic PIN code to sign your application. Keep this code in a safe place, because your parent will need it to re-sign the California Dream Application each time you make a correction to your application or file a new one in a subsequent year.
If your parent does not receive a PIN, your parent must provide a signature page for every correction that is made.
Keep in mind every time a California Dream Application is submitted or correction is made, you must sign your application. For dependent students, parent and student signatures are required.
Special Circumstances: Unable to Provide Parent Information
In situations such as the ones below, you may be able to submit your application without parent information despite being considered a dependent student:
- Your parents are incarcerated.
- You have left home due to an abusive family environment.
- You do not know where your parents are and are unable to contact them (and you have not been adopted).
- You are older than 21 but not yet 24, are unaccompanied, and are either homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.
The online application will ask you whether you are able to provide information about your parents. If you are not, you will have the option to indicate that you have special circumstances that make you unable to get your parents’ information. The site then allows you to submit your application without entering data about your parents.
Once you’ve submitted your DREAM Application, you will need to reach out to our office to discuss your options – and whether or not a Dependency Override Appeal is an option. Be sure to gather as much information and supporting documentation about your situation as you can (legal documents; letters from a school counselor, a social worker, or clergy member; any other relevant information that helps document your special circumstance).
After the Dream Application: Next Steps
Completing the DREAM Application is not the last step; your application has to be processed, and then you get an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which CSULB uses to figure out how much aid you can get.
- After initial successful submission of your application, CSAC will send you an email with your nine-digit Dream I.D. number. If you do not receive an email from CSAC, be sure to check your spam/junk mail folders. Keep your Dream I.D. number in a safe place because you will use it to log back into the Dream Application, when you correct errors on the Dream Application, or when you talk to CSAC or your school. Be sure to review the Confirmation Page within your application to alert you to error codes that need correction.
- Review your California Student Aid Report (CA-SAR). Your SAR will list the information that you provided on the California Dream Act Application, as well as an Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
- Check your CA-SAR for accuracy. For corrections, return to the California Dream Act website and make the changes immediately. If no changes are needed, save the form for your records.
- California Dream Act Website
- DREAM Application FAQs (PDF)