FAFSA & Financial Aid for Undocumented Students

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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.

Latest Update: February 2, 2023

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.

Students with DACA Status: Filling Out the FAFSA

If you have DACA status, you can complete the FAFSA, but you need to get a social security number first. DACA students can be eligible for social security. The Enumeration Beyond Entry (EBE) program allows you to apply for Employment Authorization and Social Security at the same time. For more information about DACA and social security, download this useful PDF from the Social Security Administration. 

There are a few more things to know when filling out the FAFSA:

When answering the question, “Are you a U.S. citizen?” DACA students must answer no. Don’t worry, you are safe answering honestly.

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.

You only need one parent to fill out the FAFSA with you. If your parent does not have a social security number, do the following:

Your parent should enter “000-00-0000” when the FAFSA form asks for the social security number. If the form rejects this number, try again. It will eventually accept the number.

Your parent cannot sign the form electronically. Choose the option to print a signature page and mail it in. It will take more time to process your FAFSA, so keep checking back over the next few weeks. 

More Help for Undocumented Students

Tools & 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.

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