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Undocumented students face many hurdles in order to a college education. But obtaining a degree is far from impossible.
How being undocumented affects college attendance
There’s no federal law barring undocumented students from attending school, although two states – Sc and Alabama – prohibit undocumented applicants from attending public colleges.
Many undocumented students can get a degree through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. It’s an Obama-era initiative that protects undocumented immigrants who came to america as minors from being deported. The status, renewable every two years, allows these immigrants to legally work and attend college in the usa. Almost 700,000 undocumented immigrants held DACA status as of September 2017, based on data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
But undocumented students can’t get federal educational funding like U.S. citizens do. Twenty states allow undocumented students to pay for in-state tuition, based on the National Conference of State Legislatures. Six states – Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri and South Carolina – have laws prohibiting undocumented students from qualifying for?in-state tuition.?In most other states, admission and in-state vs. out-of-state charges remain towards the discretion of colleges and universities.
In September 2017, the Trump administration announced plans to phase out DACA, and new applications aren’t being accepted. A order from the court in January 2018 partially blocking the phaseout means the way forward for DACA will play in court and in Congress. Throughout 2018, three federal appeals courts – in California, Ny and Washington, D.C. – upheld the lower court’s order.
In the meantime, DACA recipients – referred to as Dreamers – can still apply to and purchase college. Here are 10 strategies for how to get it done.
How Dreamers can use to college
1. CONTACT POTENTIAL COLLEGES’ CENTERS FOR UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS
“Although not on every campus, these centers can offer information on signing up to the university and help fix such things as educational funding for undocumented students,” says Andrea Gaytan, director from the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center in the University of California, Davis. “More , they are able to continue being a resource and community while you are in school,” she adds.
2. ASK ADMISSIONS OFFICES HOW YOUR STATUS WILL AFFECT THE APPLICATION PROCESS
“Some schools will treat undocumented students like domestic applicants, meaning they’ll consider all of them with exactly the same educational funding policies because they do for U.S. citizens,” says Joel Hart, associate?dean of admissions at Pomona College in Claremont, California. “Most schools, however, will treat undocumented students as international students, meaning they will be competing for more limited educational funding dollars,” he states. Students should contact every school on their own list to learn how their application is going to be treated.
Some schools will treat undocumented students like domestic applicants, meaning they’ll consider all of them with exactly the same educational funding policies because they do for U.S. citizens.
Joel Hart, associate dean of admissions at Pomona College in Claremont, California
3. Think about the CAMPUS AND ITS SURROUNDING COMMUNITY
“It will be important to feel comfortable and safe not only on campus, but additionally in the outlying town or city you’ll be residing in throughout your college career. Consider exactly what the community has to offer when it comes to a positive social climate and services for undocumented people,” Gaytan advises.
4. WORK WITH COLLEGE ACCESS PROGRAMS During HIGH SCHOOL
These programs hold informational meetings and frequently offer test prep courses, says Rebecca Merrick, a global student advisor at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville. To find a college access program in your neighborhood, ask an instructor or local college, or try your nearest YMCA chapter.
5. EMBRACE YOUR IDENTITY
Fear often plays most within the college application for undocumented students, as numerous are unwilling to reveal their immigration status in case of potential repercussions.
“Don’t be afraid to embrace your identity being an undocumented student when appropriate,” Hart says. “Sometimes that identity comes from a powerfully compelling story that just you can tell with regards to you, as with an essay.”
How Dreamers have enough money college
6. LOOK FOR PRIVATE SCHOLARSHIPS During HIGH SCHOOL
The ideal time for you to begin looking for scholarships is at the start of your senior year of high school, or perhaps in the entire year prior to attending school. “For undocumented students, private scholarships can provide important coverage for discretionary costs like meals, housing, transportation and books in addition to covering your tuition,” says Gaytan of UC Davis. “Take a glance at civic organizations inside your hometown, as well as your prospective college campus, for available scholarships.”
For undocumented students, private scholarships can provide important coverage for discretionary costs like meals, housing, transportation and books along with covering your tuition.
Andrea Gaytan, director from the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center in the University of California, Davis
?7. ASK COLLEGES Should you QUALIFY FOR INSTITUTIONAL AID
Though undocumented students cannot receive federal financial aid, they are able to receive institutional aid, as well as in a few cases they are able to receive educational funding using their state. “The student will have to check with their admissions counselor and/or educational funding counselor for that policies from the university or college that they’re thinking about, because each institution is different,” says Stephanie Tolbert, senior vice president for enrollment at Louisburg College in Louisburg, North Carolina.
8. Inquire if The school WAIVES APPLICATION FEES Because of FINANCIAL NEED
“Many colleges possess a policy such as this, even when they do not necessarily advertise it,” says Hart from Pomona. “Don’t assume that every school will be hesitant to provide financial help.”
How Dreamers can stay informed
9. FOLLOW POLICY CHANGES
“Gain an awareness of the landscape,” says Melissa Quan, associate director of Fairfield University’s Center for Faith and Public Life in Connecticut. Laws aimed at undocumented immigrants are constantly changing, so remaining in the know will inform your decisions about college and beyond. If you’re unsure whether you be eligible for a admission, financial aid or another type, and double-check any answers you receive.
Laws aimed at undocumented immigrants are continually changing, so staying in the know will state your decisions about college and beyond.
10. COMPLETE THE FAFSA
Before you fill out the FAFSA, contact your school’s financial aid office and explain your circumstances. Completing the form may help you organize documents which help you be eligible for a in-state tuition or make an application for scholarships or institutional grants.
“Many undocumented students assume – and maybe are even advised – that since they’re not entitled to federal financial aid, they cannot, or should not, complete the FASFA form,” Quan says. “However, this is not true in every case. For college students with DACA status, completing the FAFSA form or the CSS profile can help them gather the information required to make an application for other forms of financial aid that they’re eligible.”
- Want to take action?
Find out how to get educational funding from your university as an undocumented immigrant
- Want to dive deeper?
Learn how to complete the FAFSA if your parents are undocumented immigrants
- Want to explore related?
Discover financial options for immigrants living in the U.S.