For Undocumented Students: Questions and Answers About Paying for College

College Board Scholarship Search

If you’re an undocumented student and have questions about college costs and financial aid, here some are answers:


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 or the college’s own forms. Check with the admissions or financial aid office at each college to see if they have financial aid available for undocumented students and what forms you need to complete to be eligible.

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Am I eligible for scholarships?

Yes. You need to find scholarships 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.

Many scholarships allow undocumented students to apply. There are even scholarships geared toward undocumented students. Be sure to look into local scholarships offered by community groups 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 shouldn’t 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. If your state does offer financial aid to undocumented students, you may have to fill out a financial aid application. The Repository of Resources for Undocumented Students (.pdf/1MB) has information about policies in several states. The rules often change so be sure to get the latest information.

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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. 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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