Since you have found your way to our webpage, you may either be one of the undocumented students or a parent seeking more information related to this particular subject. As always, it contains numerous misconceptions and beliefs that are often not entirely true, which is why we shall start by stating that undocumented immigrants can attend colleges in the United States. Moreover, numerous public and private universities in the country accept undocumented applicants today.
Turning to the National Immigration Law Center, we can see that any foreign individual who has entered the United States without an inspection, by using fraudulent documents, or entered the country legally as a non-immigrant by violating the terms of one's status is considered an undocumented individual. Still, it is crucial to remember that many undocumented students in the country were placed in certain circumstances beyond their control while being minors.
According to the Pew Research stats, about 11.3 million undocumented individuals live in the USA with half of them coming from Mexico and the other originating from Central or South America or Asia. It must be noted that over 80% of them are individuals younger than forty-four, as the recent survey shows. Researching the subject further, we can see that over 700,000 of them are under the DREAM Act, which stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors.
How to Apply to College for Undocumented Students
Most importantly, you should not fear when considering college education because there is no federal government law in the United States that would give any educational institution or a person a legal right to show proof of citizenship when you apply for admission. Even if you will not have much luck in states like Georgia, Arizona, Alabama, Virginia, or South Carolina, it is only because of their private rules that have been set privately. Your solution is to seek colleges that accept undocumented students, which is exactly what our guide will assist you with.
The safest bet is contacting any school that interests you privately and learning more about their policy since every case is different! Remember that any type of disclosure of your student's status is against the law, according to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.
In simple terms, you should always start by talking to your high-school teacher or a counselor since they already know where to direct such students and how to guide them without any delays.
Still, some aspects can help you improve your college admission, including:
- Earning a good GPA score while being a high school student.
- Taking Advanced Placement or specific college preparatory classes to meet certain requirements.
- Passing through standard tests like the ACT or SAT.
- Your presence in any social or volunteering work that you can tell about.
Remember that in some cases it will matter more than your GPA, especially when seeking financial assistance.
Take your time to review each college for undocumented students and its application process. Nevertheless, some aspects will remain the same. It means that if you seek to attend a two or four-year college, you must consider these stages:
- A correctly filled-in application form online.
- A personal statement letter.
- A supplemental essay based on some topic offered by the college.
- Two or more recommendation letters from high school teachers, social organizations, or educators.
- High school transcripts.
- Standardized test scores (if you have passed any).
- Application fees.
- Information about any volunteering experience.
Volunteering is an essential part and is recommended. It is also good to include telling of such an experience in your personal statement as it will help you to stand out from the rest!
5 Best Universities in the US for Undocumented Students
Consider these options for applying and remember that states like California also provide financial state aid, which is an exception to the common rule.
- Brown University (New York). This institution even belongs to the Ivy League, which already says something as it has an open curriculum and accepts undocumented students regardless of their status in exactly the same way as it accepts U.S. permanent residents or domestic applicants.
- Pitzer College. Although it is a small Liberal Arts college in California, it offers assistance and acceptance for undocumented students and grants access to a large set of useful resources. It is a great choice for students who want to major in Social Sciences or Media Studies. It also has an official sanctuary campus that offers legal assistance for undocumented individuals along with financial aid.
- Smith College. If you are a female undocumented student, you can consider this all-female Liberal Arts college. Since it belongs to the Five Colleges system, you can use available help from all of them in the same area. It guarantees to meet your financial need and will offer assistance if you are an undocumented student who is not eligible for Federal Aid.
- Swarthmore College. One of the best colleges for undocumented students with a sanctuary campus that will provide you with financial aid or any kind of legal resource if you are not a U.S. citizen.
- The University of California System. It stands for universities like UCLA and UC Berkeley. Even though it has strict acceptance policies, your chances are even higher than those of the domestic students since these universities in California are particularly open to non-citizens. It must be noted that the California state makes it possible for undocumented students living in the state to use the benefits of in-state tuition and financial aid provided by the state.
Of course, there are many other options that you may consider, yet these five entries in our list are some of the safest and cost-efficient institutions that you must explore.
How Colleges Help Undocumented Students
We are often asked whether undocumented students can work on campus if they belong to the undocumented group. Unfortunately, if you are not a U.S. citizen, you must provide your EAD (Employment Authorization Document) along with the Social Security number to make your work legal. It is a reason why most colleges and universities in the United States offer scholarships for undocumented students that help them cope with the college tuition payments and various daily expenses.
Without a doubt, you can also encounter various private colleges that will set up their unique financial aid plans and rules that may include scholarships, community work, or any other type of financial assistance.
Financial Aid for Undocumented Students
Here are some of the best scholarship for undocumented students options to consider:
- Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund. It is a famous civil rights organization that provides scholarships for students that belong to the Latino community. The only requirement that they list is a person's readiness to show commitment to the advancement of Latino civil rights in one's career. Make sure to post your application by January 31, 2021, or by March 1st, 2021.
- Hispanic Fund College Scholarship. The applicants must be of Hispanic heritage and show clear intent to attend a four-year institution in the fall of the year when sending an application. If you are eligible for DACA, you may apply for an award that ranges from $500 to $5,000.
- Golden Door Award. Once you win, you receive complete tuition assistance, room, and board at the school of choice. It means that your school of choice must belong to any institution from the Golden Door partnership. You must be eligible for DACA or have the TPS document, which stands for Temporary Protected Status. A strong academic record is required along with two recommendation letters. Deadline: April 2021.
- Anhelo Project Dream Scholarship. It requires you to be an Illinois resident planning to attend college in the same area. You should have at least 12 college credits when submitting. You must be ineligible for Federal Financial Aid. DACA students can apply as well.
- Educators for Fair Education New Americans Scholarship. You can receive up to $7,000 of financial assistance if you have graduated from any high school in the San Francisco area. You must be born abroad and belong to undocumented students or refugees. It is not available for permanent U.S. residents.
- Fontana Transport INC Scholarship Fund. If you plan to major in Transportation, Spanish Language, Nursing, or any STEM discipline, you can apply for this financial award of varying amounts. You must be a first-in-your-family college student.
- Pepsico Cesar Chavez Latino Scholarship. It includes 10 awards annually that provide a $3,000 financial aid. An applicant must be of Latino descent and come from the state of California or Arizona. Your immigration status does not matter.
Please, remember that you must send an application letter that fully explains your status and financial need!
Legal & Advocacy Support Resources for Undocumented College Students
Seeking legal help or want to know your civil rights? These resources will help you!
- Immigrant Legal Resource Center. It helps to spread the knowledge about the rights and welfare of immigrant students. It unites community organizations, lawyers, and advocates to help protect the rights and education methods of undocumented students in the USA.
- National Immigration Law Center. It is the central resource that has been helping low-income immigrants since 1979 by focusing on policies and the various strategies that are aimed at making education affordable and accessible. It has a legal advice section and educational documents.
- The National Immigration Legal Services Directory. It is a great search engine that will assist you in finding free or low-cost legislative services that help with immigration challenges in your particular area. It has a list of over 900 lawyers on the subject.
- United We Dream. It is an undocumented immigrants education resource for the youth, which is also led by young people. An outstanding organization that focuses on higher education for undocumented learners.
- Migration Policy Institute. It provides all the necessary fact sheets and policy briefs about the U.S. immigration rules. It also helps to determine whether you may pursue DACA status.
- National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). Use this resource to learn about state financial aid and receive legal help by approaching local legislation rules.
- uLead Network. It is an important resource that stores updated information about colleges and legislation rules related to undocumented students.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. You can download all the required forms for the DACA application or renew your existing one. It has videos and tips to avoid immigration scams and trouble.
- Berkeley's Undocumented Students Program. It has a detailed explanation of DACA requirements.
- CItizenPath's DACA Resource Center. It provides helpful tips and explains all the steps of an application process with success stories and guides.
Take your time to explore these helpful resources for undocumented students!
What is The Dream Act and DACA?
DREAM Act stands for Development, Relief & Education for Alien Minors. Unfortunately, only some states have passed their individual DREAM acts, including Illinois, California, and Minnesota, which lets them offer financial aid assistance and scholarships for immigrants.
In simple terms, any person who came to the U.S. before turning 16 and who was 30 years old or younger on June 15, 2012, can apply for DACA. It stands for Students with Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals. It offers a greater access to higher education than undocumented students that have no such status. DACA is equal to a "lawfully present" status, which keeps you safe. It even works for Alabama and South Carolina where you cannot apply otherwise.
Additional Resources for Undocumented Students
Take your time to read these helpful resources to know the laws in a clearer way and to download helpful templates, test your English skills, or apply for legal immigration help.
- An Undocumented Immigrant Status Explanation
- Financial Aid FAQ for Undocumented Students
- Federal Student Aid
- College Board Helpful Undocumented Students Breakdown
- Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities
- U.S. Department of Education
- Test of English as a Foreign Language
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
- Free Application for Federal Financial Aid
- National Conference of State Legislature
- Family Educational & Privacy Act (FERPA)
Most importantly, remember that the law is on your side. Therefore, analyze our guide, read through each section again, and apply for the college of your dreams!