Financial Aid FAQ For Dreamers
Last updated November 30, 2021
Figuring out how to pay for college as an undocumented or DACA protected student can be confusing, and in many cases, outright discouraging. But there are options available for Dreamers, and 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 a Dreamer.
Does being undocumented affect my chances of being admitted to college?
Not necessarily! Per the National Association of College Admissions 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. In the part of the parent info section that asks for your parents social security number, enter all zeroes (000-00-0000) and then print out the FAFSA and mail to it FAFSA headquarters instead of signing your FAFSA with an FSA ID.
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. Check out this article on how to ask for and 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.