SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

FAFSA & FINANCIAL AID FOR Undocumented Students

Need Money for College?
Get Started Here

Green box with a bow that had a bag of money inside it.

Are you an undocumented student and need money for college? Don’t worry. There are ways to help pay for your education. Here is a quick guide to get you started.

First, please check out our new guide explaining how to navigate the FAFSA and financial aid process. Get the latest information for the 2024-25 college year. Then see below for information and instructions on how to get the most financial aid possible. 

First question: Can I get federal grants or loans? Unfortunately, the answer is no. You cannot receive federal money. This is true for all undocumented students, including those who have been 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. Work with an adult you trust to see what is available.

Look for:

State & local grants: Find out if your state or city offers scholarship aid to undocumented students. A growing number of scholarships are available from state governments to students, including the New York State Dream Act. Ask a counselor or teacher you trust about what is available in your area.

In-state tuition: Public colleges and universities typically charge lower tuition rates for state residents. Undocumented students are often eligible for in-state tuition but will probably have to prove that they have been in the state for a certain period and/or attended high school there. Visit the Higher Ed Immigration Portal to find more information on what each state provides for undocumented students.

College aid: Many colleges have money to offer undocumented students. Figure out what schools you want to attend and get in touch with their financial aid office. (Worried? You can ask someone else to call for you.) Or look on their website. At the University of Michigan, there is a web page for undocumented students to see all of the funding options, including contact information for their financial aid assistance. See if your colleges offer the same.  

Grants and scholarships: One of our favorites? TheDream.us offers scholarships and opportunities, including the National Scholarship Award, covering some tuition and fees, and the Opportunity Scholarship, for students who live in states where they can’t get in-state tuition.

For lots more on grants and scholarships, read our recently published guide for undocumented students.

Lots of the latest info: Policy and legal advocacy organizations can keep you up to speed on your rights and what help might be available to you on a college campus. We like these pages on Informed Immigrant, the National Immigration Law Center, and our favorite very busy blog, My Undocumented Life.

Other places to look: Check out scholarship databases, state educational websites, and school websites. Talk to people you trust at your school, community organizations, and colleges you would like to attend.

Take a look at articles on our website to learn about scholarship opportunities:

Grants and Scholarships for Undocumented Students

Things You May Not Know About Applying for Scholarships

Your Scholarship Hunt: Where To Start on the Big Websites

Five Ways To Find College Money on TikTok

Parents Without Social Security numbers

It is safe for your parents to help you fill out the form, even if they are undocumented. Your parent’s citizenship status does not affect your ability to fill out the FAFSA and apply for financial aid.

Your parents do need to help you with this form. With the new FAFSA, there is a new process allowing parents to use ITINs (if they have them) and sign the form electronically. The FAFSA is easier to fill out and sign than it has been in the past. 

However, one aspect of the process is more complicated for parents without Social Security numbers. Parents are now required to get an FSA ID, a secure login that allows them to fill out the FAFSA and share their tax information. 

This new process was launched this January. Read how it works: How to Get an FSA ID Without a Social Security Number

This article details the challenges that families have been facing since the FAFSA opened. The FAFSA is in a “soft launch” period, and there are a number of aspects of the new FAFSA that aren’t working. The FSA ID process for undocumented parents is, unfortunately, one thing that isn’t working. 

Our advice: wait until the end of the month. Federal Student Aid has promised that the FAFSA and FSA ID process will be in good shape by February. 

More Help for Undocumented Students

TOOLS AND RESOURCES

Scholarships & Fellowships at Immigrants Rising

Get Immigrant Rising’s carefully curated list of 2021 scholarships. Bonus: Almost 500 are open to undocumented individuals without DACA.

Video: Paying for College as an Undocumented Student

A video for undocumented students in California trying to figure out how to pay for college. The end of the video offers info for students in other states.

If You Are A Dreamer, We Can Help You

The founders at TheDream.US believe that nothing should stand in your way of a college education: Not the cost, your immigrant status, or the lack of financial aid. Learn about scholarships here.

More Help

A College Guide for Undocumented Students

There are national programs and state laws that allow undocumented students to attend college. This guide helps students navigate the options that are available.

Video: Proud Daughter of Immigrants from Mexico

Jessica Hinojos is the daughter of parents born in Mexico who both crossed the border into the United States. She describes what it takes to get into and through college.

Financial Aid and Undocumented Students: Questions & Answers

Start here for help with financial aid. This is the federal government’s official Q&A for undocumented students. Learn what you need to do to get financial help from colleges.