As a parent, you want your child to achieve personal, professional, and financial success as they enter adulthood. If your child is undocumented, you may have concerns about whether college is a possibility and what additional challenges might arise due to their undocumented status. We created this article to provide up-to-date information and resources for undocumented immigrants who wish to attend college.
Next, we will answer the following questions:
- Are undocumented students allowed to attend college in the U.S.?
- What states provide in-state tuition to undocumented students?
- What is the college application process like for an undocumented student?
- Are undocumented students eligible for financial aid?
- Can undocumented students apply for scholarships?
- Where can I find scholarships?
Are undocumented students allowed to attend college in the U.S.?
Undocumented students may incorrectly assume that they cannot legally attend college in the United States. However, no federal law prohibits the admission of undocumented immigrants to U.S. colleges, public or private. In fact, over 450,000 college students in the U.S. are undocumented.
What states provide in-state tuition to undocumented students?
Students who live and study in the same state have “in-state tuition” or lower college tuition. Currently, the following 22 states plus the District of Columbia (D.C.) provide in-state tuition to the state’s undocumented students.
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
Of these states, the first 17 and D.C. also provide access to state financial aid. State financial aid is a form of financial assistance offered to eligible residents to help reduce their educational costs. For a complete list of each state’s policies, click here.
What is the college application process like for an undocumented student?
There’s much to consider when applying to college as an undocumented student. The good news is that no federal law requires applicants to disclose proof of citizenship to gain admission into a U.S. college. Furthermore, the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prohibits admissions and financial aid officials from disclosing a student’s immigration status to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
With this peace of mind, students can now focus on the application process, which typically consists of presenting a series of documents, the most important being the personal essay. For undocumented applicants, these written assignments can be a great opportunity to detail the challenges they have overcome relating to their immigrant status. College applications may also ask about academic interests, extracurricular activities, or volunteer projects. For more tips and tricks on how to make a personal essay stand out, click here.
Are undocumented students eligible for financial aid?
Undocumented students, including DACA recipients, are not eligible for federal financial aid, including federal student loans and grants.
Can undocumented students apply for scholarships?
With federal financial aid out of reach, state and private scholarships for undocumented students become especially valuable. Below is a curated list of resources that identify scholarships available to undocumented students.