FAFSA & Financial Aid for

Immigrant Families


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Are you an immigrant to the United States? Immigrants and students from immigrant families can get money to attend college. Your strategy for getting financial aid will differ depending on you and your family’s immigration status. Here’s what you need to know.

Latest Update: February 2, 2023

Not a citizen? Parents not citizens? You are in good company. Students from immigrant families account for more than a quarter of students attending college in the United States.

And a small but significant group of these college students are undocumented. Many states and colleges are trying to increase financial aid and support for undocumented students.

Whatever your citizenship status, you can apply to college and seek money to pay for it. We have some information to get started here.

Then talk to an adult you trust at home or at school. Counselors will protect your privacy. You can also confidentially contact folks at the FAFSA to ask about your family’s situation. FAFSA’s phone number is 1-800-433-3243.


For Students with Parents Who Are Not U.S. Citizens

For students, there is one simple rule to keep in mind: If you are a citizen and/or you have a social security number, you can fill out the FAFSA and are eligible for all federal aid (including grants, loans, and work-study income).

This is true even if your parents are not U.S. citizens or undocumented. It is safe for your family to apply for aid and for your parents to sign the FAFSA form. By law, all information on the FAFSA must be kept confidential.

Just keep in mind: The financial aid process will look a bit different if the parent signing the FAFSA form is not a U.S. citizen. Here are the two main differences:

Non-citizens without a social security number will need to use 000-00-000 when starting the FAFSA and creating their FSA ID. Do not use the “ITIN” number you use to pay your taxes. Just use 000-00-0000. U.S. permanent residents (families with “green cards“) should have a social security number to put on the form.

Without a parent social security number, you cannot sign the FAFSA form electronically. This is not a problem. The on-line FAFSA form will have you print out a signature page. You mail this in and monitor your email to see when the FAFSA is processed. It can be quick — or take up to a few weeks. Watch your email carefully.

Q&A: For Families with Undocumented Students or Parents

If I am undocumented, can I get financial aid?

Unfortunately, you cannot receive federal money. This is true for all undocumented students, including those granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. But you may be able to get state or local grants or money from your college and private scholarships. Here is some advice and resources for undocumented students. And take a look at the latest scholarship sites and strategies we recommend.

I’m a citizen, but one of my parents is undocumented. Can I get financial aid?

Yes. You and your family can safely apply for financial aid. You only need one parent to help you fill out the FAFSA. Work with the parent who is a citizen (or here as a legal non-citizen) to fill out the FAFSA.

What if both of my parents are undocumented?

You and your family can safely apply for aid. One of your parents will need to help you fill out the FAFSA. They should use “000-00-0000” as a social security number. They will be following the exact same instructions as documented immigrants. No one will know they are undocumented.

More Help for Immigrant Families

Tools & Resources

Are You Eligible for Financial Aid?

Federal student aid is often available for families that have immigrated to the U.S. But it’s important to know the rules before you fill out the FAFSA. Start here to see if you are eligible for federal financial aid.

Inside Information for Immigrant Families

This government site offers crucial how-to information for immigrant parents and students filling out the FAFSA. Useful for both educators and families.

Have an ITIN? What You Need to Know

Immigrant parents may have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number instead of a Social Security Number. This number is used to pay taxes. But it can’t be used to fill out the FAFSA. Learn more.

More Help

Financial Help for Immigrant Students

Every student can go to college, regardless of immigration status. New York City’s school district provides advice and resources for families getting started on this journey.

Types of Aid Available for Immigrant Families

Who gets what? This helpful wrap-up explains what kind of aid is available, depending on your family’s immigration status.

Higher Ed Rights & Resources for Immigrant Families

All students, regardless of immigration status, have the right to attend K-12 public schools and seek a college degree. NILC provides legal and funding resources.

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