My Immigration/Citizenship Status is Complicated. Can I Get Financial Aid?

My Immigration/Citizenship Status is Complicated. Can I Get Financial Aid? This article answers the question and explains further. There are four main categories of immigration status, and each immigration category allows for different financial aid opportunities. The first category includes naturalized citizens, who have the same rights and opportunities as native-born citizens. The second category, permanent immigrants, includes lawful permanent residents, refugees, and asylees. When it comes to federal student aid, the U.S. government considers permanent immigrants “eligible noncitizens.” This means that they are eligible for all three types of federal student aid: grants, work-study, and loans. The third category, temporary residents, includes foreign students on a visa. (For information on financial aid opportunities for international students. Finally, there are immigrants with discretionary status, including undocumented immigrants. Because financing college can be particularly difficult for students in this last category, this article mainly focuses on financial aid opportunities for undocumented students.

The Two Main Financial Aid that an Immigrant with Complicated Status can Access:

State Aid

Many states have laws or policies in place aimed at improving access to higher education for undocumented students. According to the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), at least twenty states have “tuition equity” laws or policies, which allow undocumented students to attend their state’s public colleges or universities at the in-state tuition rate. These states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, and Washington. This is an important and necessary measure. In some states, undocumented students are charged the out-of-state tuition rate, which can be a significant financial burden on students and their families.

In addition to having tuition equity laws or policies in place, some states also offer state financial aid to undocumented students. These states include California, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. Other states, such as Connecticut, Illinois, and Utah, have merit-based state scholarships for undocumented students. Because some states are more supportive of undocumented students than others, it can be difficult to know where your state stands on access to postsecondary education for immigrants. Luckily, the NILC has mapped out each state’s laws and policies on access to higher education for undocumented students, and Edmit encourages you to check it out.

Institutional Aid

In addition to state aid, undocumented students may be eligible for institutional aid at select “undocumented-friendly” colleges and universities. There are several ways a school can be considered undocumented-friendly. Some—including Illinois Wesleyan University, Saint Mary’s College, University of Kansas, Smith College, and Western Michigan University—knowingly admit undocumented students. These schools often suggest that students reveal their status for further support, and undocumented students at these schools are typically eligible for merit-based scholarships and/or limited institutional aid.

Other colleges and universities are even more supportive, promising to meet 100% of the demonstrated financial need of every admitted student, regardless of his or her immigration status. These schools include all eight Ivy League institutions, Bowdoin College, Middlebury College, Pomona College, University of Chicago, and Vassar College. Be aware that schools might require you to submit the FAFSA and/or a CSS Profile application before finalizing your aid. You should always check in with your school’s financial aid office for the specific

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