Our Blog

know what you need to know

How to Recieve Financial Aid as an Undocumented Student by Cecilia Cain

June 25, 2020

by Cecilia Cain


Should you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form?


  • With DACA: Yes! If you have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, you can benefit from filling out a FAFSA form. Your DACA status affords you a social security number, which means that you will be able to complete your FAFSA form. Although you will not be eligible for federal aid, this form will give you access to other aid opportunities. This will allow you to receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), which shows demonstrated financial need and can be used to apply for aid through a specific institution and private scholarships (3).


  • Without DACA: No! Because completely undocumented students do not have Social Security numbers (SSN), they will not benefit from filling out the FAFSA form. There are scholarships (listed below) specifically for students without any legal citizenship documentation.


  • If your parents/guardians are undocumented: Yes! The FAFSA form does not ask about parents’ citizenship status. Information should never be falsified on federal forms. FAFSA will require parents’ SSN. In its place, fill this line in with all zeros. Even if your parent has an Individual Taxpayer identification Number (ITIN), do not use it in place of an SSN. Enter the parent’s income question manually rather than using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Without a SSN, undocumented parents cannot create a PIN, typically needed to virtually “sign” the form with. Instead, you should print, sign, and mail in ONLY the signature page (4).


If you fill out the FAFSA form for need assessment purposes but don’t feel comfortable submitting it to the federal government, you can download or print it and send it directly to the institution or organization you’re applying to.


Can undocumented students recieve in-state tuition?


In some states, yes! As of now, 21 states have “tuition equity” policies. These policies allow students who have met certain criteria to receive in-state tuition rates and state financial aid, regardless of immigration status. States with these laws include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia (5).


Each state has varying criteria for who qualifies for in-state tuition. It’s typically true that:

  • Students must have several years of established residency in the given state.
  • Students must have graduated from high school or obtained their GED in the given state.


What are other resources to make college affordable?


Apply to private scholarships! Whether you’re planning to attend a private or public higher education institution, private scholarships are a resource for you. Even if you don’t need financial aid for tuition, these funds can be used for transportation fees, books, and other school supplies. Below are websites with comprehensive lists of private scholarships that do not require any citizenship status or are specifically directed towards undocumented students.



Works Cited


  1. "Undocumented Students". 2020. NASSP. https://www.nassp.org/policy-advocacy-center/nassp-position-statements/undocumented-students/.
  2. Census Bureau, US. 2020. "Educational Attainment In The United States: 2018". The United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2018/demo/education-attainment/cps-detailed-tables.html.
  3. "A Reference Guide For DACA Recipients". 2020. Unitedwedream.Org. https://unitedwedream.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/DACAStepsforFAFSA2014_Final.pdf.
  4. "Scholarshipsa-Z". 2020. Scholarshipsa-Z. http://www.scholarshipsaz.org/.
  5. "Basic Facts About In-State Tuition - National Immigration Law Center". 2020. National Immigration Law Center. https://www.nilc.org/issues/education/basic-facts-instate/.

Want to read more?

Guide and Resources for International Adoption of Children Under the Age of 16 by John Tedesco
Read more
Immigration as a National Political Debate: Joe Biden’s Immigration Policies by Anika Jagasia
Read more
Resources for Immigrants Experiencing Domestic Violence by Carolyn Bruce
Read more
Resources for Undocumented Immigrants Applying to College by Sage Kashner
Read more
Immigrants as Foreign-Born Labor Participants by Anika Jagasia
Read more
The New Sanctuary Movement by Cecilia Cain
Read more
Steps to Getting a J Visa by John Tedesco
Read more
Snippets from Second Gen by Elena Koshkin
Read more
Connecting with Culture through Music and the Arts by Mallory Lindahl
Read more
A Beginner’s Guide to Anti-Racist Literature from within the United States by Dylan Lassiter
Read more
"We are humans, and we have the right to live" - the spread of coronavirus in immigrant detention centers by Noah Pellettieri
Read more
How to Recieve Financial Aid as an Undocumented Student by Cecilia Cain
Read more
Crash Course in ESL by Elaina Smith
Read more
Guide to Attaining a F or M Student Visa by John Tedesco
Read more
This American Dream by Izzy Sumardi
Read more
College Cultural Clubs & Organizations: Resources for First and Second-Gen Immigrants by Anika Jagasia
Read more
How to Identify and Report Notario Fraud by Kristin Silvestri
Read more
Arranging Independence: A True Immigration Story by Emma Pell
Read more
A Comprehensive Guide to the 2020 Census by Chelsea Brooks
Read more
Right and Access to Public Education Based on Immigration Status by Sage Kashner
Read more
Foreigner by Jasmine Huang
Read more
The Wild West by Izzy Sumardi
Read more
 A Call to Action: How to Help Immigrants During the Coronavirus by Jasmine Huang
Read more
Taking Action: COVID-19 and Asian Identity by Kyubin Kim
Read more
Resources for Immigrants During the Coronavirus by Jasmine Huang
Read more
The Namesake - The Sacfifices of an Immigrant by Jasmine Huang
Read more
New Country, New Life, New Therapist by Jasmine Huang
Read more
Tastes of Home - Making friends as an Immigrant by Kyubin Kim
Read more
Morning Stars for Breakfast by Jasmine Huang
Read more