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Applying to College as an Undocumented Student

Last updated January 10, 2024

Applying to college as an undocumented student can be confusing or overwhelming at times. But we’re here to help! In this article, we’ll break down the college application and financial aid process for undocumented students by answering commonly asked questions.

(Lee este artículo en español aquí!)

Applying to College

Is it safe to identify myself as undocumented when I apply to college?

Generally speaking, yes it is. Almost all colleges (with the possible exception of for-profit colleges) will keep your personal information safe throughout the application process. In many cases, it’s important to let your college know you’re undocumented so they can discuss options with you and offer support.

Does being undocumented affect my chances of being admitted to college?

Not necessarily! According to the National Association of College Admission Counseling, "The majority of colleges and universities in the U.S. will consider undocumented students for admission. [...] Most colleges accept students regardless of their legal status."

Can I get college application fee waivers as an undocumented student?

Yes! If you and your family meet income eligibility requirements, you can request application fee waivers. You can typically access these fee waivers through your high school counselor. If you registered for the SAT and qualified for a fee waiver, you are automatically eligible to receive a college application fee waiver at participating colleges. 

Note: Not all colleges accept application fee waivers, so be sure to check in with the schools you’re applying to.

A young brunette woman wearing a yellow t-shirt sits at a wooden desk and writes on paper with a pen. An open computer sits in front of her - Applying to College as an Undocumented Student

Financial Aid for Undocumented Students

Can I fill out the FAFSA and receive federal financial aid as an undocumented student?

No. Even if you are DACA-protected and have a social security number, you will not be eligible to receive federal financial aid for college. However, you may still be eligible for state and institutional aid depending on where you live. Many states have their own version of the FAFSA for undocumented students, such as California’s Dream Act Application, Texas’ Application For State Financial Aid (TASFA), or the Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA). To learn more about your state’s financial aid policies, click here.

My parents are undocumented but I’m a U.S. citizen. Can I complete the FAFSA and receive federal financial aid?

Yes! If you’re a dependent student living with parents who are undocumented, you can still fill out the FAFSA using your social security number. Your parents’ citizenship status does not affect your eligibility for federal aid.

Your parents will be designated as “Contributors” on the FAFSA, and they will each need to create a StudentAid.gov account (FSA ID) in order to complete it. If your parents don’t have social security numbers, they will be required to answer “knowledge-based identity” questions in order to authenticate their StudentAid.gov account.

Do I qualify for in-state tuition at public colleges as an undocumented student?

It varies by state. While a handful of states allow undocumented students access to in-state tuition, others don’t. Click here to learn more about your state’s policies.

Will I lose my financial aid package if my DACA expires?

State and institutional sources of financial aid will remain in place regardless of whether your DACA status is active or expired. Check in with your school’s financial aid office if you have any concerns.

What scholarships are available to me as an undocumented student?

Check out this page for a list of scholarships that don’t have any citizenship requirements. Depending on what state you live in and what college you attend, state and institutional scholarships may be available to you. Generally, when searching for scholarships, if there’s no citizenship requirement, you can usually assume you’re eligible to apply.

Have any more questions about applying to college as an undocumented student? Text #College to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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