Grants and Scholarships for Undocumented Students

Are you an undocumented student planning to go to college?

You are not alone. One out of every three college students is either an immigrant, a child of an immigrant, or an international student. More than 427,000 college students are undocumented. This is one-quarter of the country’s 1.7 million first-generation immigrant students. 

Unfortunately, there is no federal funding to help undocumented students with college. But increasingly, states and colleges are finding ways to offer financial support.

Start here to get the big picture: FAFSA & Financial Aid for Undocumented Students.


How To Get the Most Money for College

State tuition discounts and grants

Work with a counselor or an adult you trust to find out what kinds of financial aid or tuition discounts might be available in your state. For example, New York State has created a welcoming portal for undocumented students to help them qualify for the lower cost in-state tuition at state colleges as well as grants from New York’s popular Tuition Assistance Program.

To see what might be available for you, we love the map that’s available on the Higher Ed Immigration Portal. Their list of partners may be helpful as well.

College programs and scholarships

Know which colleges you hope to attend? Take a look at their websites and see if they offer special programs or scholarships for undocumented students. (Type your college name and “undocumented students” into a search engine. See what comes up.) If a college publicizes that they offer assistance for undocumented students, you can feel comfortable contacting them to ask questions.

Private scholarships for undocumented students

This is an important source of money. College can be expensive, and you’ll need as much help as you can get. There are lots of scholarships and lists out there.

Here are a few scholarship sites to get you started:

TheDream.US offers two types of scholarships, based on where you live. The Opportunity Scholarship is for students who live in “locked-out” states where they cannot get in-state tuition. A National Scholarship is available for undocumented high school and college students who live in more supportive states.

This website features scholarships and fellowships available to students regardless of immigration status. You can filter and customize your search. At first glance the list of options may seem long and confusing, but it’s worth the time to work through it.

United We Dream
United We Dream’s scholarship database is very similar to ImmigrantsRising. One key difference: this organization is led by young people and offers lots of resources and opportunities to learn from a youth’s perspective. It’s worth checking out the site and the connections they can offer you.

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)
MALDEF offers an easy-to-read list of scholarships that don’t ask about your citizenship status. The list is available in a PDF that you can print or download to your computer.
This is a big commercial site with a helpful list of scholarships for undocumented students. You’ll need to ignore the advertising, but it is relatively easy to sift through.


Extra Credit

Looking for a website that has a wealth of news and help for undocumented students? Check out My Undocumented Life. The site features scholarship announcements — and so much more — for students, families, and professionals. 🙂