For Undocumented Students: Questions and Answers About Paying for College


If you’re an undocumented student, you probably have questions about college costs. Here are answers to some common questions undocumented students have about paying for college.


Do colleges offer financial aid or scholarships to undocumented students?

Yes, some do. Private colleges often have special funds available. To apply for this financial aid, you may have to fill out the CSS Profile® pay-for-college/college-costs/undocumented-students-questions-about-paying-for-college or the college’s own forms. Check with the admission or financial aid office at each college you are interested in to find out its requirements.

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Am I eligible for scholarships?

Yes, you just need to find ones that you qualify for. Start by talking to your high school counselor and checking out the Scholarship Resources page on the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) website.

There are many scholarship opportunities, and some private scholarship organizations allow undocumented students to apply. There are even a few scholarships specifically meant for undocumented students. Be sure to look into local scholarships offered by community groups, such as the Kiwanis, that might be open to all students living in the local community.

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Can I get federal financial aid?

No. You can’t get federal financial aid unless you’re a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen. This means you should not fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

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Can I get a Pell Grant?

No. Pell Grants are a type of federal financial aid.

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Can I get financial aid from my state?

It depends on where you live. Some states offer financial aid to undocumented students and some don’t. The rules often change, so be sure to get the latest information. The Repository of Resources for Undocumented Students (.pdf/1MB) has information about policies in several states.

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Do I pay the in-state or out-of-state rate at a public college in my home state?

It depends on where you live. Some public colleges may offer you in-state tuition rates based on proof of residency in the state. Others may treat you as an out-of-state or international student and require you to pay the higher rate.

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How else can I cut down on costs?

You may be able to save money on tuition by earning college credit before starting college. Check with the colleges you’re considering to see if they award credit for qualifying scores on AP® or CLEP® exams or for successfully completing International Baccalaureate (IB) courses and earning qualifying scores on IB exams. Find out more about the AP Program and CLEP.

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Where else can I find information about paying for college?

Here are some websites and downloads with helpful information:

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