Financial Aid for Undocumented Students | BestColleges (2023)

Finding financial resources can be a challenging for undocumented students, but it’s not impossible. Discover the resources available for you to apply to college.


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Financial Aid for Undocumented Students | BestColleges (6)

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(Video) How to Pay for College as an Undocumented Student

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In 2019-20, full-time undergraduate students received an average of $14,940 in financial aid. Graduate students received an average of $27,310, about 30% of which came from federal grants, according to CollegeBoard. The availability of financial aid for undocumented students, however, is much more limited.

Despite the fact that many of these learners face great financial challenges, undocumented and DACA students do not qualify for federal funding. To fund their education, these students need to pursue other pathways, such as state funding and private scholarships. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Can Undocumented Students Receive Financial Aid?

Undocumented students cannot access federal financial aid, but state funding may be available.

At least seven states offer state-funded financial aid for undocumented students. Learners can also pursue private scholarships and loans, which may feature less restrictive policies and requirements. Additionally, some schools may allow students to sign up for payment plans, and some employers offer tuition remission for learners with work authorization.

Even though undocumented learners have assurances under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, they should only reveal personal information on applications if they feel secure and protected.

State-By-State Financial Aid Access

According to TheDream.Us, only Alabama and South Carolina completely restrict admission for undocumented students at public colleges and universities, though many other states put barriers in place. For example, at least nine states charge undocumented students out-of-state tuition rates even if they reside in the state.

Nevertheless, about 20 states do try and accommodate undocumented applicants, either by honoring in-state tuition rates for residents or by offering financial aid. These policies typically require applicants to have attended high school in the state.

According to the National Immigrant Law Center, no federal laws prevent states from offering in-state tuition rates to undocumented learners as long as they offer the same options for other students.

Financial Assistance for Undocumented Students

  • Scholarships

    Scholarships provide some of the best pathways to financial aid for undocumented students. These awards may come from private sources, schools, or state funding in regions that accept and protect the rights of undocumented immigrants. Scholarships for undocumented students typically require applicants to submit transcripts, resumes, and essays.
  • Grants

    Though similar, grants and scholarships often differ in terms of requirements related to financial need. Grants frequently target individuals from low-income households. In states that offer them financial aid, undocumented students may need to prove their eligibility by revealing their financial status. Prospective applicants should consider speaking with a financial aid advisor before applying to a school.
    (Video) 6 Types of College Aid for Undocumented Students!
  • Loans

    With no federal financial aid available for undocumented students, college loans may be a student's only option. However, since private loans often require credit scores, many undocumented applicants may not qualify. Nevertheless, some lenders offer specialized options. Additionally, some states offer access to DACA student loans, although these could require immigration documentation and co-signers in the U.S.
  • Work-Study Programs

    While undocumented students cannot participate in federal work-study programs, some schools offer similar programs using state or private funding. Typically, applicants need to demonstrate financial need to qualify, so providing personal financial information may be required. Some programs may only accept DACA students with proper documentation.
Financial Aid for Undocumented Students | BestColleges (7)

Financial Aid Resources for Undocumented Students

TheDream.Us supports undocumented and DACA students in their quest for higher education and legal status. The organization offers scholarships and provides resources on financial aid and college access programs.

The College Board offers various resources for undocumented students regarding college applications and financial aid.

Fighting for immigrant rights, NILC offers information and resources for DACA and undocumented students attending college and pursuing financial aid.

The ILRC provides support and resources to immigrants in various areas. It also runs advocacy and community campaigns to raise awareness and advance immigrant rights.

FinAid offers information on financial aid in general, including details on scholarships and loans. It also provides resources for undocumented students

Through My Undocumented Life, visitors can find information on scholarships and financial aid for undocumented students, along with application information and other resources.

10,000 Degrees Outside supports students from low-income backgrounds, including undocumented learners. It helps connect visitors to scholarships and offers information on college applications and support programs.

Informed Immigrant provides resources regarding immigrant rights. It connects undocumented immigrants with relevant information and professional support.

Frequently Asked Questions About Financial Aid for Undocumented Students

How can undocumented students pay for college?

Financial aid for undocumented students may be more difficult to find than for other learners, but there are several options. Prospective students may be able apply for state funding in certain locations, as well as payment plans, work-study programs, and private loans. They can also qualify for various scholarships or ask their employer about tuition remission.

Can you fill out the FAFSA if you don't have a Social Security number?

No. Students cannot fill out the FAFSA without a Social Security number. DACA students with a Social Security number may create an ID and proceed with the application. Though they still will not qualify for federal funding, they may receive state funding in some cases.

Can DACA students fill out the FAFSA?

DACA students who have a Social Security number may submit the FAFSA, but they will not qualify for federal student aid. However, in some cases, DACA applicants may receive state aid; they should check with their guidance counselor or advisor to determine if filling out this form is worthwhile.

(Video) UndocU | FAFSA & Common Application Tips for Undocumented Students

Can a student with undocumented parents fill out the FAFSA?

Yes. Students with undocumented parents can submit the FAFSA since only the applicant needs a Social Security number. However, students may need to divulge their parents' or guardians' financial information to qualify for certain forms of funding.

Can undocumented students qualify for student loans?

Yes. While undocumented students cannot qualify for federal student loans, they can qualify for various other types of loans. For example, some state funding programs may be available, and they can often access student loans from private lenders.


Are undocumented students eligible for federal financial aid? ›

Undocumented students, including DACA recipients, are not eligible for federal student aid, but you may still be eligible for state or college aid, in addition to private scholarships. Check with your college or career school's financial aid office for more information.

Do undocumented students fill out CSS profile? ›

Yes. Some do. Private colleges often have special funds available. To apply for this financial aid, you may have to fill out the CSS Profile or the college's own forms.

What are 3 issues that undocumented students face in higher education? ›

Some of the challenges presented for undocumented students are the lack of financial aid, resources, and citizenship information, and institutional regulations that discourage and constrain them from pursuing higher education.

How do I fill out FAFSA without SSN? ›

If you're a citizen of the Freely Associated States and don't have an SSN, enter 666 in the first three spaces of the SSN field. Leave the remaining six spaces blank.

What disqualifies you from getting financial aid? ›

Incarceration, misdemeanors, arrests, and more serious crimes can all affect a student's aid. Smaller offenses won't necessarily cut off a student from all aid, but it will limit the programs they qualify for as well as the amount of aid they could receive. Larger offenses can disqualify a student entirely.

What makes you not eligible for financial aid? ›

Don't maintain satisfactory academic progress in your program, according to your school's standards. This might include a grade-point average minimum or number of credits completed. Don't submit the FAFSA each year you're enrolled. Default on a student loan.

Can you get financial aid without CSS Profile? ›

You must submit the FAFSA each year you plan to receive financial aid. You must also submit the CSS Profile each year, if the application is accepted by the school you attend.

What states allow undocumented students to go to college? ›

There are colleges that not only accept undocumented students but also offer them in-state tuition and even financial aid.
As of 2021, the following states allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition:
  • Arkansas.
  • California.
  • Colorado.
  • Connecticut.
  • Florida.
  • Hawaii.
  • Illinois.
  • Kansas.

Can illegal immigrants go to school in us? ›

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plyler vs. Doe (457 U.S. 202 (1982)) that undocumented children and young adults have the same right to attend public primary and secondary schools as do U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Why can't undocumented students receive financial aid? ›

Most undocumented students aren't eligible for an SSN; thus, they cannot complete the FAFSA form.

What do you call an undocumented student? ›

Undocumented youth are also often referred to as “Dreamers”. This moniker came out of the DREAM Act movement.

Why can't undocumented students go to college? ›

Undocumented students may incorrectly assume that they cannot legally attend college in the United States. However, there is no federal or state law that prohibits the admission of undocumented immigrants to U.S. colleges, public or private.

Does FAFSA check SSN? ›

We use the FSA ID or the SSN you entered on the “Log In” page to automatically fill in your SSN on your FAFSA form. If you incorrectly entered your SSN on the “Log In” page, you can't change it and you'll have to start a new FAFSA form.

Does FAFSA verify SSN? ›

The Social Security Administration and the FAFSA processing system work together to conduct the match verifying that the student's SSN is valid and that the name and birth date associated with that SSN match the name and birth date provided by the student.

Can I use itin instead of SSN for FAFSA? ›

ITIN numbers will not work on the FAFSA; use 000-00-0000 instead. If parents do not have social security numbers, they will not be able to use the DRT (Data Retrieval Tool) shown on the FAFSA.

What happens if you are denied financial aid? ›

If you were denied federal student aid, you might be able to get the decision reversed through an appeals process. In special circumstances — if your parents aren't supporting you and refuse to provide information for the FAFSA, for instance — you might be able to make the case that you're an independent student.

What are 4 types of financial aid you can qualify for? ›

Grants, work-study, loans, and scholarships help make college or career school affordable.

Does FAFSA check your bank account? ›

Students selected for verification of their FAFSA form may wonder, “Does FAFSA check your bank accounts?” FAFSA does not directly view the student's or parent's bank accounts.

How can I pay for college without financial aid? ›

9 Ways to Pay for College Without Financial Aid
  1. Complete Your FAFSA. ...
  2. Qualify for Merit Scholarships. ...
  3. Apply for Private Scholarships. ...
  4. Apply for ROTC Scholarships. ...
  5. Attend a Community College. ...
  6. Earn College Credit in High School For FREE. ...
  7. Get a Job, or Two. ...
  8. Education is a Gift.
Jun 17, 2021

Does everyone get approved for financial aid? ›

Your eligibility depends on your Expected Family Contribution, your year in school, your enrollment status, and the cost of attendance at the school you will be attending. The financial aid office at your college or career school will determine how much financial aid you are eligible to receive.

What happens if I don't fill out a CSS? ›

If your school isn't on that list, you don't have to submit a CSS Profile, but you'll still be considered for non-federal aid. The institution will use the info on your FAFSA to determine your eligibility for both federal and non-federal aid.

What happens if I don't fill out my CSS Profile? ›

About 400 colleges accept the CSS Profile, so make sure it's required or accepted by schools you're applying to before paying to complete it. Final tip: Don't skip the CSS Profile if your schools ask for it. You could miss out on more money for your education!

How do I get CSS waived? ›

Domestic undergraduate students may submit CSS Profile for free if:
  1. Family adjusted gross income is up to $100,000.
  2. The student qualified for an SAT fee waiver.
  3. The student is an orphan or ward of the court under the age of 24.

Can undocumented students go to Harvard? ›

The University does not make citizenship status a condition for admission to any of Harvard's Schools. With the admissions decision comes a commitment to every person who has been admitted, regardless of immigration status.

Are undocumented students considered international students? ›

Undocumented students are not considered international applicants because many do not qualify for a visa and do not have to go through the international admission process. A mixed status family is one in which some family members are US citizens and/or legal residents while others remain undocumented.

Can undocumented immigrants become nurses? ›

1159 (SB 1159): Allows undocumented individuals to apply for professional state licenses (e.g., nursing, barbering, auto repair) using an ITIN instead of a Social Security Number (SSN).

Can I get a green card if I entered illegally? ›

As described above, if you entered the United States illegally and have more than 180 days of unlawful presence, you will need to leave the United States to apply for a green card at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

Can undocumented students get a green card? ›

Yes. It is possible to do so, but the process for getting a green card as an illegal immigrant can be difficult to do. There are a few different ways to get a green card as an illegal alien.

Can I sponsor an illegal immigrant? ›

U.S. citizens can sponsor their undocumented spouses and children for a green card. But immigrants who entered without inspection, which is true of many undocumented immigrants, cannot adjust their status because they are considered inadmissible.

Can a non citizen get financial aid? ›

Non-U.S. Citizens

Generally, if you have a “green card” (in other words, if you are a permanent resident alien), you will be considered an “eligible noncitizen” and will be able to get federal student aid if you meet the other basic eligibility criteria.

Who qualifies for Dream Act? ›

The Dream Act of 2023 (S. 365) would establish a process for Dreamers to apply for conditional legal status and ultimately become citizens. To qualify for the Dream Act, eligible individuals must be generally considered “inadmissible” or “deportable” under immigration law, or be in temporary protected status.

What is the Golden Door Scholarship? ›

Golden Door Scholars is an organization that provides large college scholarships, career and fellowship support, mentorship, and community-building opportunities for undocumented students. The Golden Door Scholarship is now closed for students attending college in the Fall 2023 semester.

Can undocumented students work in the US? ›

If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must have an employment authorization document (EAD) in addition to a social security number (SSN) to work legally. The only policy that grants these two documents to undocumented immigrants is Deferred Action, also called DACA.

How can I help an undocumented college student? ›

  1. Engage with an Open Mind. ...
  2. Create a Safe Space. ...
  3. Learn about Relevant Institutional Policies & Legislation. ...
  4. Find & Advocate for Scholarships and Financial Support. ...
  5. Build Your Own Educator Network. ...
  6. Connect Students to Undocumented Community Leaders and Role Models. ...
  7. Involve Parents. ...
  8. Access Reputable Legal Information & Assistance.

Can I go to college if my parents are undocumented? ›

In the United States, there are 4.5 million U.S citizen children with at least one undocumented parent. As a citizen of the United States, you can access postsecondary education and financial assistance to support you pay for your schooling regardless of your parent's immigration status.

How can an illegal immigrant become legal? ›

To obtain legal status, undocumented immigrants must file an application for immigration relief. In certain situations, you may file an application for adjustment of status – generally known as a Green Card application.

How many college students in the U.S. are undocumented? ›

The U.S. is home to more than 427,000 undocumented students, including DACA recipients, enrolled in higher education. Undocumented students are a heterogeneous community, representing the broad range of immigrants in the U.S.

What percentage of college students are undocumented? ›

New estimates, drawn from the 2019 American Community Survey (ACS), indicate that undocumented students account for more than 427,000 or approximately 2 percent of all students in higher education in the United States.

Can undocumented immigrants get FAFSA? ›

Undocumented students, including DACA recipients, are not eligible for federal student aid, but you may still be eligible for state or college aid, in addition to private scholarships. Check with your college or career school's financial aid office for more information.

What triggers FAFSA verification? ›

Most FAFSAs are selected for verification because of issues involving income and taxes. If a data element is transferred from a federal income tax return to the FAFSA, it is not selected for verification.

Does FAFSA verify your income? ›

During verification, the college financial aid administrator will ask the applicant to supply copies of documentation, such as income tax returns, W-2 statements and 1099 forms, to verify the data that was submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Can you get FAFSA without SSN? ›

You must have a Social Security number (SSN) to create a account (FSA ID).

Can my parents make a FAFSA ID without SSN? ›

If your parent doesn't have an SSN, your parent won't be able to create an FSA ID (which requires an SSN) and therefore won't be able to sign your FAFSA form electronically.

What does FAFSA verification check? ›

Verification is the process your school uses to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA form is accurate. If you're selected for verification, your school will request additional documentation that supports the information you reported. Don't assume you're being accused of doing anything wrong.

Will my ITIN become my SSN? ›

The IRS issues ITINs to international students who are not eligible to obtain a social security number. An ITIN is not the same as a social security number, and does not offer the same benefits. It is for U.S. federal income tax filing purposes only. You cannot have both an ITIN and an SSN.

What is the ITIN number good for? ›

What is an ITIN used for? IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws, and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security numbers.

Can I apply for FAFSA with an ITIN? ›

Yes, only the student needs to have a social security number (SSN) in order to complete the FAFSA. If your parents do not have social security numbers they should enter all zeros for the SSN. The Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) should not be entered in place of the social security number on the FAFSA.

Can undocumented students go to college in the US? ›

College Admission Policies

However, there is no federal or state law that prohibits the admission of undocumented immigrants to U.S. colleges, public or private. Federal or state laws do not require students to prove citizenship in order to enter U.S. institutions of higher education.

Can I apply for FAFSA with an ITIN number? ›

ITIN numbers will not work on the FAFSA; use 000-00-0000 instead. If parents do not have social security numbers, they will not be able to use the DRT (Data Retrieval Tool) shown on the FAFSA.

Can undocumented immigrants work in the US? ›

All immigrants regardless of legal status are able to earn a living as independent contractors, or start a business using an ITIN or SSN. An independent contractor must pay self-employment tax and income tax. An independent contractor may use an ITIN to file and pay taxes instead of a SSN.

Do immigrants get free college in the US? ›

Rather, section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) prohibits states from providing any higher education benefit based on residence to undocumented immigrants unless they provide the same benefit to U.S. citizens in the same circumstances, regardless of their ...

Does Harvard accept undocumented students? ›

The University does not make citizenship status a condition for admission to any of Harvard's Schools. With the admissions decision comes a commitment to every person who has been admitted, regardless of immigration status.

Does FAFSA verify tax information? ›

During verification, the college financial aid administrator will ask the applicant to supply copies of documentation, such as income tax returns, W-2 statements and 1099 forms, to verify the data that was submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

What can undocumented students do after college? ›

Undocumented immigrants have a number of opportunities available after graduating from college, including graduate school and making a living through various forms of legal employment.

Can undocumented immigrants go to medical school? ›

Important facts for undocumented students who would like to apply to a UC medical school: There are no restrictions to prevent undocumented students from attending public graduate or professional schools in California. Applicants are not required to have a Social Security Number to apply.


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