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Financial Aid FAQ For Undocumented Students

Last updated March 29, 2022

Figuring out how to pay for college as an undocumented student can be confusing, and in many cases, outright discouraging. But there are options available for undocumented students - half the battle is knowing what those options are and how to access them. In this FAQ, we break down how and whether you can access federal, state, and local financial aid as an undocumented student.

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. Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, and Georgia prevent undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition, but most colleges accept students regardless of their legal status."

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

No. Unless you are DACA protected and have a social security number, you will not be able to complete the FAFSA or receive federal financial aid for college. However, you can still receive state and college-level aid. Many states have separate “FAFSA”-like forms for undocumented students, like California’s California Dream Act Application, or Texas’ Texas Application For State Financial Aid. Check out this list of states that offer financial aid programs for dreamers.

What if my parents are undocumented, but I have citizenship? Can I still fill out the FAFSA and receive 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.

In the part of the parent info section that asks for your parents social security number, enter all zeroes (000-00-0000) where a social security number would normally go. If your parents don’t have social security numbers, they won’t be able to create FSA IDs and electronically sign your FAFSA, so you will need to print your FAFSA's signature page out and have them manually sign it before mailing it to FAFSA’s headquarters. Don't have a printer at home? Print it at your school - try using the library or asking a teacher for help. We know this is an extra step, but don’t let it get in your way of receiving federal financial aid!

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

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

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

Yes! If you and/or your family meet income eligibility requirements, you can ask for application fee waivers. Learn more here about how to ask for any qualify for application fee waivers. 

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

It varies by state! A handful of states have voted to allow undocumented students access to in-state tuition, while others are against it. Check out this page for a full list of states that offer in-state aid to undocumented students.

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

State and college level sources of financial aid will remain in place regardless of whether your DACA status is in place or expired. However, if you received federal student aid (like the Pell grant, student loans, Federal work study), you may be cut off when your DACA protection expires.

What scholarships are available to me as an undocumented student?

Check out this page for a list of scholarships that do not require applicants to prove U.S. citizenship. Depending on what state you live in and what college you attend, state and college level scholarships may be available to you.

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