Overview

The financial aid landscape for undocumented students is different for each state. Undocumented students are not eligible for federal aid, loans or work-study, all of which are programs financed by the U.S. government. However, there are various ways undocumented students can finance their education; the list below, pulled together from Alene Russell, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and United We Dream, tabulates statewide policy (if any) for in-state tuition at state schools in all 50 states. State policy regarding in-state tuition is dynamic, and although this table is accurate as of the date that it was posted, we encourage you to contact your state schools regarding any new legislative changes.

Alabama NO, via legislation in June 2011
Alaska No statewide policy
Arizona Some college systems enroll DACA recipients
Arkansas No statewide policy
California YES, via legislation
Colorado YES
Connecticut YES
Delaware No statewide policy
Florida YES
Georgia NO, undocumented students banned from some state schools.
Hawaii YES, and undocumented students are provided financial aid via SB 2163: http://immigrationimpact.com/2012/04/16/colorado-hawaii-and-delaware-progress-on-tuition-equity-for-undocumented-students/
Idaho No statewide policy
Illinois YES, via legislation
Indiana No statewide policy
Iowa No statewide policy
Kansas YES, via legislation
Kentucky YES
Louisiana No statewide policy
Maine No statewide policy
Maryland YES
Massachusetts YES, for DACA students
Michigan Some Michigan schools provide in-state tuition
Minnesota YES
Mississippi No statewide policy
Missouri Some DACA recipients may be able to pay in-state tuition at some schools
Montana Statewide policy bans undocumented students, but public university system is not bound by initiative
Nebraska YES
Nevada YES
New Hampshire No statewide policy
New Jersey YES, via legislation
New Mexico YES, and undocumented students are eligible for state aid
New York YES, via legislation
North Carolina No statewide policy
North Dakota No statewide policy
Ohio DACA students allowed to pay in-state via Board of Regents
Oklahoma YES, via legislation then Board of Regents
Oregon YES
Pennsylvania No statewide policy
Rhode Island YES, via Board of Regents – student must have attended HS in the state for at least three year and graduated
South Carolina NO. Undocumented students banned at all public schools.
South Dakota No statewide policy
Tennessee No statewide policy
Texas YES, via legislation. Undocumented students eligible for state aid
Utah YES, via legislation
Vermont No statewide policy
Virginia DACA recipients may be able to pay in-state at some schools
Washington YES, via legislation
West Virginia No statewide policy
Wisconsin YES
Wyoming No statewide policy

Data sources include:

FAFSA

Although no undocumented students (including DACA students) are eligible for federal student aid, those with Social Security Numbers (through DACA) should still fill out the FAFSA as they may qualify for state or college aid, depending upon the state and the school.  Many colleges will use this information to determine eligibility for their own need-based grants and scholarships.  Also, in some states that require the FAFSA for certain tuition waivers, a paper FAFSA completed and processed with the college may ensure eligibility for some state programs.

See this PDF from studentaid.ed.gov and this PDF from United We Dream for more detailed information.

Documents Necessary to Apply for Financial Aid

There are 4 documents that are necessary and sufficient to apply for financial aid (excluding federal aid).

1) Individual income tax forms of your legal guardians  and yourself, if you are employed (usually Form1040, Form1040EZ, orForm1040NR).

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2) Form W-2, which is usually requested in conjunction with the individual income tax form.

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3) CSS Profile (if your school specifically asks for it). The CSS Profile gives select colleges and universities a very detailed look at students’ financial circumstances. It is more specific than the FAFSA, and includes space for students to elaborate on aspects of their financial circumstances not portrayed by other parts of the CSS Profile. If you feel that being undocumented has created unique challenges for your family, you may list these challenges in that section.

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Image from www.collegeboard.org

4) Miscellaneous documents. Some institutions will ask for school-specific documents for undocumented applicants. This is because undocumented students apply to almost all colleges as “international students,” which requires various other documents that may ask for total income, assets, etc. separate from the individual income tax form. Furthermore, some schools may ask for pay-stubs from you or your parents. If your parents do not receive pay-stubs, you should ask the employer to write a letter as proof of employment, signed with the employer’s name and contact information.

External Scholarships

Outside of the institutions you are applying to, there are a plethora of various external scholarships that may help you finance your education. The key to external scholarships is to apply to as many as you feel comfortable with. With the exception of several, most of these scholarships vary greatly in amount.

1) The first major scholarship available for undocumented students is administered each year by Questbridge (QB), which is a nonprofit organization that bridges highly performing students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Questbridge administers the National College Match (NCM) program each year, which essentially replaces the “Early Decision/Action” for students who choose to participate. Even if you are not matched with a school through the NCM, getting commended as a finalist will be a great asset to your application, as colleges and universities will know that you have succeeded despite economic disadvantage.

An overview of the NCM is explained by this diagram from the QB website.

2) After the QB scholarship, start with this database of over 200 external scholarships compiled by Harvard College’s Act on a Dream, an immigration advocacy group on campus.

3) The Mexican American Legal and Defense Fund (MALDEF) has compiled a list of scholarships that can be found here.

4) The following is a list of scholarships and scholarship databases compiled from various online sources, including the Act on a Dream College Access Program.

5) Finally, this document produced by the College Board may have useful information and resources for you regarding scholarships, financial aid, etc.