Am I eligible for financial aid if my parents are undocumented?

Question:

Am I eligible for financial aid if my parents are undocumented?

Answer:

To qualify for federal student aid, the student must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or eligible noncitizen. It does not matter if the student’s parents are undocumented, under-documented or foreign citizens. The student is still eligible for federal student aid.

For example, if a student was born in the United States to undocumented parents, the student is a U.S. citizen and is eligible for federal student aid.

When filing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the student’s parents should enter 000-00-0000 as the Social Security Number. Do not enter a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) or stolen Social Security Number, as those numbers will fail the data match with the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Undocumented parents will not be eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, as they do not have valid Social Security Numbers. If the student’s FAFSA is selected for verification, the parents will be required to provide an IRS tax transcript by filing IRS Form 4506-T. Requesting an IRS tax transcript online will yield a faster response. It is no longer acceptable for taxpayers to provide photocopies of their federal income tax returns to colleges and universities as part of the federal verification process. Some schools, however, may request copies of federal income tax returns for determining eligibility for their institutional financial aid funds.

Students who are U.S. citizens, permanent residents or eligible noncitizens are eligible for in-state tuition at public colleges, regardless of the immigration status of their parents. Courts in California, Florida, and New Jersey have struck down state laws that denied in-state tuition to a U.S. citizen who is the child of undocumented parents. Such laws violate the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Note that students who are undocumented are not eligible for federal student aid. Some states allow undocumented students who graduated from a high school in the state to obtain in-state tuition and some do not.