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Aid for undocumented students

KweenPainKweenPain Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
My best friend Jorge has great grades (over 4.0 weighted), has taken many AP classes and excelled in them, and has been accepted to 2 state colleges already. The problem is that he is not a legal citizen and his family won't be able to afford to send him to college without substantial financial aid.

Is their anything he can do or anyone he should contact who can help him?
Post edited by KweenPain on

Replies to: Aid for undocumented students

  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    He may be able to find a private loan or scholarship.
    He may also do what lots of other kids do to save money- attend community college for a couple years and pay less than 1/2 the cost of a 4 year school-
    FinAid | Other Types of Aid | Scholarships for Undocumented Students
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 24,869 Senior Member
    Kween,

    Your friend's financial aid eligibility depends on his legal status in the US. There can be big differences between the money available for US citizens and Legal Residents (green card holders) who generally are eligible for the various federal grants and loans, and the money available for students who hold other kinds of visas including TPS (lots of students from say El Salvador may have a TPS status). Some states give undocumented (also often referred to as "illegal") aliens who have graduated from an in-state high school in-state tuition rates at their universities. Some states classify even US citizens whose parents are undocumented aliens as non-residents for tuition (there was an article in the Washington Post about this situation in Virginia a couple of days ago). Basically, he needs to have a sit-down with the financial aid office to find out what to do based on his legal status.

    This challenge will follow him to the community colleges as well, where he may face out-of-state tuition depending on his (and/or his parents') legal status. I have heard rumors that some private colleges (particularly those with religious affiliations) treat undocumented alien graduates of US high schools the same way as any other student, and that these colleges find private aid for those who don't qualify for federal loans, etc. If your friend belongs to a church, he should ask the priest/minister for a referral to the denominational colleges.

    Good luck to you both!
  • CalreaderCalreader Registered User Posts: 1,029 Senior Member
    Some private colleges will give grants to undocumented students. If your friend has applied to some private schools, he would need to talk to each of their financial aid offices to see what the policy is. Even some public universities will work with students to find them help, though they are more constrained in what they can offer.

    The question of resident vs. non-resident tuition for undocumented students is resolved at the state level, so your friend has to check on what your state laws are. In California, for example, undocumented students can be eligible for in-state tuition.

    The organization MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) puts out a list of outside scholarships available to undocumented students, but I've noticed that quite a few scholarships on their list actually require legal residency. Still, it's a place to start.

    Your school guidance counselor might know of local scholarship organizations that don't require legal residency. These organizations won't show up on the national lists, so you have to ask someone who knows about opportunities in your particular area. I know some scholarships in northern California, so feel free to PM me if you'd like some of those pointers.
  • KweenPainKweenPain Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    Thanks for the help, everyone. His counselor said that there aren't very many options for him, but he's going to call MALDEF and see if they have any information for him. Ohio State apparantly offered him a $10,000 scholarship but he would have to pay out-of-state fees to attend and needs to show proof of legal citizenship to get the money. Right now he's talking about going to community college, but it kills me because everyone is harrassing him about why he's not going to a 4-year since he has great grades and he can't tell them why.
  • BayBay Registered User Posts: 12,499 Senior Member
    He should also investigate the option of attending a university in the country of his citizenship. He may be eligible for scholarships in that country.
  • KweenPainKweenPain Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    I'll suggest that. I just think that since he immigrated when he was 8, he's grown up American and feels American and wants to go to college in America.
  • fordiscussionfordiscussion Registered User Posts: 160 Junior Member
    If he's a legal resident, just not a citizen, he can attend community college while he applies for residency. If he's not a legal resident, then he has more problems. Although if he wants to remain here forever he should solve that problem first.
  • CalreaderCalreader Registered User Posts: 1,029 Senior Member
    About what to tell people when they want to know why he's not at a 4-year college - maybe he can just say he wants to save up money for graduate school :-).

    But I hope he'll look into private colleges that would be able to offer him more help than public colleges are allowed to do. There are colleges with late deadlines, so he could still apply, though who knows what his chances would be given his financial aid situation. There is a list of colleges with late deadlines at US News: USNews.com: America's Best Colleges 2008: Getting a late start? All is not lost
    If that link doesn't work, search on the US News site in the education area for the text "Getting a late start? All is not lost".

    Also, when he has his plan for next year settled, he really should start researching what paths there might be for becoming a legal resident. One of the local organizations that gives scholarships to undocumented students in the Bay Area also provides them with legal help, and maybe there will be a local organization where you are that does the same.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
  • BayBay Registered User Posts: 12,499 Senior Member
    He really needs to address his undocumented status immediately. He cannot legally get a job in this country right now, so his prospects of working his way through college and getting a job after college in the U.S. are pretty grim, especially in this economic climate.
  • KweenPainKweenPain Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    Thanks again, everyone. I forwarded some of your advice to him. He wants to become a legal citizen, but I think he's unsure of the steps he needs to take to do so. He's even considering joining the military at this point if it will help him become legal sooner.
  • CalreaderCalreader Registered User Posts: 1,029 Senior Member
    Kween, the local organization I was referring to in #4 is called Educators for Fair Consideration (e4fc.org). On their web site they have a downloadable fact sheet for undocumented students with a few pointers at the end to other groups, including MALDEF, the Pew Hispanic Center, National Immigration Law Center, and the Urban Institute. I would suggest that your friend contact all of these groups (including E4FC) to get advice about how he might be able to change his immigration status.
This discussion has been closed.