Do you have to be a U.S. citizen to qualify for federal student aid?
No, you can receive federal aid if you have an eight or nine-digit Alien Registration Number and have an eligible non-citizen immigration status.
Generally you are an eligible noncitizen if you are:
- A permanent U.S. resident with a Permanent Resident Card (I-551);
- Conditional permanent resident with a Conditional Green Card (I-551C);
- The holder of an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing any one of the following designations: “Refugee,” “Asylum Granted,” “Parolee” (I-94 confirms that you were paroled for a minimum of one year and status has not expired), “T-Visa holder,” (T-1, T-2, T-3, etc.) or “Cuban-Haitian Entrant”;
- The holder of a valid certification or eligibility letter from the Department of Health and Human Services showing a designation of “Victim of human trafficking.”
It is always a good idea to confirm current rules by reviewing the Federal Student Aid site.
I live in the U.S. because one of my parents has a special H-1 work visa. Am I eligible for federal aid?
No, an H-1 visa status does not qualify.
My family has submitted a green card application to INS with the help of an immigration attorney and it is now in review and pending. Am I eligible for federal financial aid?
No. Until you are officially approved for an actual or conditional green card you are not eligible for federal financial aid.
What if I am a U.S. citizen but one or more of my parents are undocumented?
If you are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, you are eligible for financial aid regardless your parents status.
However, when you complete the FAFSA it is important that your parents do not supply a fake or stolen social security number (SSN) on the form. That will cause the FAFSA to be rejected when the parent’s social security number on the FAFSA fails to match what is shown in the Social Security Administration database. The FAFSA will also be rejected when the parents submit a ITIN, or a SSN that is valid for work purposes only. So, if your parents do not have a social security number, they should use 000-00-0000 as their social security number on the FAFSA form. The schools will contact you to resolve the lack of SSN’s for the parents.
Do I have any options for financial aid if am an undocumented student?
Undocumented students cannot legally receive any federally funded student financial aid, including loans, grants, scholarships or work-study money.
Most states and private scholarship funds and foundations require applicants to be U.S. citizens or legal residents as well, but there are some that do not.
Where can I find out which states and organizations provide assistance to undocumented students?
The College Board publishes the Repository of Resources for Undocumented Students. It provides a good starting point for undocumented students. You should also check with your school counselor and NASFAA.org for information about states that have decided to charge in-state tuition and/or award other state financial aid to undocumented students.
As an undocumented student, will I be eligible for institutional grants and scholarships?
Some college will award institutional financial aid to undocumented students. You should check the policy at each school you are considering.