Federal Student Aid for Non U.S. Citizens
Many non-U.S. citizens qualify for federal student aid. Don’t assume you can’t get aid just because you’re not a citizen. The most common category of eligible noncitizen is that of permanent resident (someone with a “green card”), but there are other categories as well.
I am a non-U.S. citizen. Can I get federal student aid?
Check with your college or career school’s financial aid office for more information. You are considered an “eligible noncitizen” if you fall into certain categories, such as the ones listed below:
- You are a
- S. national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swains Island) or
- S. permanent resident with a Form I-551, I-151, or I-551C (Permanent Resident Card, Resident Alien Card, or Alien Registration Receipt Card), also known as a “green card.”
- You have an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing
- “Asylum Granted,”
- “Cuban-Haitian Entrant,”
- “Conditional Entrant” (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980), or
- “Parolee” (you must be paroled for at least one year, and you must be able to provide evidence from the USCIS that you are in the United States for other than a temporary purpose with the intention of becoming a U.S. citizen or permanent resident).
- You hold a T nonimmigrant status (“T-visa”) (for victims of human trafficking) or your parent holds a T-1 nonimmigrant status. Your college or career school’s financial aid office will ask to see your visa and/or certification letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- You are a “battered immigrant-qualified alien” who is a victim of abuse by your citizen or permanent resident spouse, or you are the child of a person designated as such under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
- You are a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Republic of Palau. If this is the case, you may be eligible for only certain types of federal student aid:
- Citizens of the Republic of Palau are eligible for Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and Federal Work-Study.
- Citizens of the Federal States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands are eligible for Federal Pell Grants only.
To qualify for federal student aid, certain eligible noncitizens must be able to provide evidence from the USCIS that they are in the United States for other than a temporary purpose with the intention of becoming a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
If I have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), am I eligible for federal student aid?
Undocumented students, including DACA recipients, are not eligible for federal student aid, but you may still be eligible for state or college aid, in addition to private scholarships. Check with your college or career school’s financial aid office for more information.
If I have been granted DACA, should I still complete a FAFSA form?
You should check with your high school counselor or financial aid office to see whether completing the FAFSA form is the way to apply for state and college student aid. To begin your FAFSA form, you must enter your Social Security number. While completing the FAFSA form, you must answer the “Are you a U.S. citizen?” question as “No, I am not a citizen or eligible noncitizen.” After submitting your FAFSA form, you should check with your college’s financial aid office to see what types of financial aid you may be eligible to receive.
Does my parents’ citizenship or immigration status affect my eligibility for aid?
No, your parents’ citizenship or immigration status does not affect your eligibility for federal student aid. In fact, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form doesn’t even ask about your parents’ status.
What if the expiration date on my documents has passed?
- If your green card has expired, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your status as a legal permanent resident has expired. You might just need to renew the card. Be sure to do so promptly.
- If your permanent residence status has in fact expired, you are no longer eligible for federal student aid.
- If your documentation shows that you are a Cuban-Haitian Entrant, you are still an eligible noncitizen even if the expiration date has passed.
- For all other documents listed in 1–3 above, if the expiration date has passed, you are not an eligible noncitizen and cannot receive federal student aid.
For more information about eligible noncitizen status, contact your college’s or career school’s financial aid office.
What if I have documentation that isn’t listed above?
You are NOT an eligible noncitizen and cannot receive federal student aid if
- you have only a “Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Residence” (I-171 or I-464),
- you are in the U.S. on an F-1 or F-2 nonimmigrant student visa, or on a J-1 or J-2 nonimmigrant Exchange Visitor Visa, or
- You hold a G series visa (pertaining to international organizations).
If I’m not an eligible noncitizen, can I get any type of financial aid to study in the U.S.?
Yes, there may be some scholarships and other aid you can get.
Check with your country’s embassy or a consulate here in the U.S. or with the appropriate government office back in your country to see what they offer.
Try the U.S. Department of Labor’s free online scholarship search.
Ask the college or career school you plan to attend whether they offer any aid for students like you.
Check out the Education USA website.