California Dream Act Application Changes

Updates to the financial aid application process for the 2024–25 award year.

The California Student Aid Commission is making changes to the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) to include some of the updates in the FAFSA Simplification Act. Updates to both programs expand financial aid eligibility for many students. All students must complete either the FAFSA or CADAA to be considered for government student aid.

The 2024–25 California Dream Act Application (CADAA) is now available to applicants online. The priority deadline is May 2, 2024. 

We will continue to update this webpage as we receive more information from the California Student Aid Commission. This webpage was last updated March 26, 2024

What is the Simplification Act?

This process is the first major redesign of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process in over 40 years. It represents a significant overhaul of federal student aid.

The process for the CADAA includes some of the changes from the new FAFSA, both of which will be implemented for the 2024–2025 award year. Read more about the FAFSA Simplification Act.

CADAA Changes

The California Dream Act Application allows students interested in attending eligible California colleges, universities and career education programs to apply for state financial aid. 

The 2024–25 CADAA will provide students with a more streamlined financial aid process by incorporating the nonresident tuition exemption form, commonly known as AB 540 affidavit, within the application.

  • Information collected will be provided to the colleges/universities the student lists on their CADAA.
  • The school of attendance will make the final determination of AB 540 eligibility.

Other features in the 2024–25 CADAA include: 

  • Student Aid Index (SAI) is replacing the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as one of the measurements to determine applicants’ eligibility for financial aid.
  • Streamlined 1-step parent signature process (will no longer need to remember the system generated 4-digit Parental PIN).
  • Reduction in the percentage of applications that are selected for verification from 20% to 10%. 
  • Students will be presented with more clear help text to guide them through the application questions and be provided hints for a better user experience.

Unlike the FAFSA, the CADAA will not require any required contributor (i.e. parent, student spouse, parent spouse), to have a separate login to complete the application. The student will continue to play the central role in the completion of the application.

Differences between CADAA and FAFSA changes:

  • The CADAA will keep the same number of questions, FAFSA will have fewer questions.
  • The CADAA will retain language about income from the student and parent(s); the new FAFSA has updated terminology, using contributors to describe a student’s parent(s) or spouse.
  • The new CADAA will have similar income reporting requirements and questions; the new FAFSA requires the applicant and each contributor to individually consent to the direct data exchange process with the IRS.
  • CADAA filers do not need to create an FSA ID, while FAFSA filers do.
  • CADAA filers will need to manually input their financial information; data sharing with the IRS is available for the FAFSA.
  • Students filling out the CADAA do not have to complete an IRS data sharing requirement; the new FAFSA requires the applicant and each contributor to individually consent to the direct data exchange with the IRS. 

Additional resources can be found on the California Student Aid Commission’s Better FAFSA, Better CADAA web page. You can also follow the Commission on social media to receive additional updates.

Benefits to Students, Families, and Borrowers

Students and families will see a different measure of their ability to pay for college and experience a change in the methodology used to determine aid. The benefits of CADAA simplification include:

  • The new enhanced CADAA will be more streamlined, making the application process easier for students. 
  • The underlying calculation of the family’s ability to contribute will change, allowing more students to qualify for California student aid.
  • Students will now be able to submit both their CADAA and their AB540 affidavit forms (also known as the nonresident tuition exemption form) at the same time.

Although changes have been made to the California Dream Act Application, there have been no changes to how the data is shared. Information provided by the CADAA is used solely to determine eligibility for state financial aid. Information provided through the CADAA is not shared with the federal government and is not used for immigration enforcement.