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Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for federal funds, but you can still get aid from your university. Some states allow undocumented immigrants to obtain in-state tuition, and undocumented students are eligible for some private scholarships as well. Some schools even offer aid specifically for undocumented immigrants. Berkeley offers $1 million in a scholarship fund earmarked for undocumented immigrants.
Texas, California, New York, Illinois, Utah, Nebraska, Washington, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Kansas and Maryland (only for community colleges) have state laws allowing undocumented immigrants who have attended 3+ years of high school in the state to qualify for in-state tuition. Many more states are considering legislation on the issue, so ask your university if you are eligible for in-state tuition.
» MORE: What are the FAFSA requirements?
Steps for filling out the FAFSA for undocumented immigrants
Do not complete the FAFSA before talking to your school’s financial aid office.
Contact your university’s financial aid office and explain your situation; see if they have university-specific advice or protocols. They may ask you to fill out the FAFSA with a Social Security number of 000-00-0000 to obtain an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which they may use to determine your aid award. Some states have passed their own version of the Dream Act, so they may ask you to fill out their state Dream Act paperwork instead of a FAFSA.
If you are applying to a school that offers in-state tuition, ask the financial aid office if you can qualify for the reduced in-state tuition rate.
Apply for private scholarships and grants. Some private lenders may allow you to borrow a student loan with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen.
Advice from University Financial Aid Officers
Unfortunately, federal financial aid is unavailable for undocumented students. There are some states that offer in-state tuition and some grants even for undocumented immigrants. Please contact the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend for more information. There are also some scholarships that do not require legal residency status.
— Marco Siliezar, former Financial Aid Analyst at California State University's California Maritime Academy