Things That Matter

8 Scholarships And Financial Aid Resources For Undocumented Students And DREAMers

Back to school season is upon us and given the global state of affairs – from politics to the pandemic – it can be a very stressful time for students. Add a whole other level of complexity for DREAMers and undocumented students.

If you’re an undocumented or DACA student, finding financial aid for college can be tricky. Undocumented students do not qualify for federal aid, and only a handful of states offer state grants to undocumented students.

In fact, each year, an estimated 98,000 undocumented students graduate from high school but, unfortunately, we are missing out on so much potential thanks to cruel immigration policies that leave many of our country’s most talented without access to higher education. But thankfully there are still resources out there.

A recent court ruling has limited options for new DACA recipients.

In mid-July, a Texas judge ordered the federal government to stop granting new DACA applications. But current DACA recipients will remain unaffected for now. In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen found that DACA is unlawful and that the Department of Homeland Security can no longer approve new applicants into the program.

Although the ruling doesn’t affect current DACA holders, it does force many DACA hopefuls to reconsider their futures since they will not be ineligible for many of the programs they had been counting on accessing.

But several states still offer financial aid to DREAMers and undocumented students.

While federal aid for tuition is not available for Dreamers, local- and state-level assistance may be. Although popular aid programs like Pell grants and federal student loans are off-limits, 19 states offer in-state tuition rates for undocumented students and those with DACA. Though it’s worth noting that some – Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina – prohibit undocumented students from enrolling in public colleges entirely.

Some schools within certain states may also offer reduced tuition rates. Students should check with specific schools, and if possible, their high school college counselor for more information. A great state-by-state tuition aid breakdown can be found on this map. Some states, like Connecticut, have created a resource specifically for immigrant students.

Many states and colleges use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. But the major issue with this form is that it requires a Social Security number (SSN.) Most DACA recipients are eligible for a SSN. For information on how to apply for one, visit SSA.gov.

California offers several different options to the undocumented and DACA communities.

For example, take the California Dream Act. It allows some undocumented and nonresident students to receive:

  • Private scholarships funded through public universities
  • State administered financial aid
  • University grants
  • Community college fee waivers
  • Cal Grants

Find out more click here.

There are also several different scholarships designed for our communities.

There are also many opportunities out there for both DACA recipients and undocumented students to apply for scholarships. Our communities and allies have come together to create a large offering of scholarships largely funded by donors dedicated to uplifting undocumented immigrant communities.

PepsiCo Cesar Chavez Latino Scholarship Fund

Award Amount: $5,000 handed out each year in July.

The PepsiCo Cesar Chavez Latino Scholarship helps Hispanic students who are pursuing higher education. Students must be active participants in extracurricular activities and volunteer in their community. To be eligible, students must reside and attend college in Arizona or California and must be a U.S. citizen, permanent legal resident, undocumented, DACA, CA Dreamer, or eligible non-citizen as defined by the FAFSA.

You can apply here.

QuestBridge National Match Scholarship

Award Amount: $200,000 handed out each year in September.

Are you an academically advanced, low-income, high-school senior? Then apply for the QuestBridge National Match Scholarship.  

QuestBridge is a national nonprofit that empowers low-income students to attend the nation’s best schools. The majority of its partner universities accept undocumented students without current U.S. visas. The scholarship covers the full cost of tuition and room and board worth up to $200,000. Impressively, the program guarantees that scholars won’t graduate with student loans.

You can apply here.

Additionally, if you’re a junior ready to prepare for college admissions, then apply to the QuestBridge College Prep Scholars Program

Cooke College Scholarship Program

Award Amount: $40,000 handed out each year in October.

The Cooke College Scholarship Program is available to high-achieving high-school seniors. The program awards varying scholarships based on demonstrated need. The award’s upward range is $40,000 to cover a significant portion of students’ educational expenses, including tuition, housing, and supplies.

You can apply here.

Hispanic Heritage Fund

Award Amount: $5,000 handed out each year in February.

The Hispanic Heritage Fund empowers students to obtain a post-secondary degree. It provides knowledge and resources to families, while supporting students with scholarships and support services. Applicants must be of Hispanic heritage.

You can apply here.

#WeBelongInCollege Scholarship Fund

Award Amount: $1,000 to $2,500 handed out in November

The #WeBelongInCollege Scholarship encourages students to share brief stories about belonging. From times when they’ve struggled getting to and through college, how they overcame these challenges, and any advice they have for other students. By sharing your stories of struggle and perseverance, you will be entered to win a $2,500 or $1,000 college scholarship.

You can apply here.

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