Scholarship Tips for Undocumented Students


Being able to afford college is a challenge for everyone, but for undocumented students it’s even harder. Undocumented students are ineligible for any state or federal financial aid, which means they cannot file a FAFSA. Without the help of Federal financial aid, undocumented students are left with limited options to fund their higher education. There are scholarships out there for undocumented students, but they’re just a little trickier to find. Here are tips on how to find scholarships for undocumented students.

Find Out How Much Money You’ll Need

Finding out just how much you’ll need to pay for your higher education is difficult to estimate. Some states permit undocumented students to pay the lower in-state tuition that residents pay for their state’s public institutions. On the other hand, other institutions may treat undocumented students like foreign students and charge them out-of-state tuition regardless if they reside in the state. This varies from state to state; check out this helpful map to see just what each state offers.

Look Over Residency and Eligibility Requirements Carefully

Regardless of whether you’re paying in- or out-state tuition, college will be costly without the help of scholarships. Unfortunately, undocumented students usually aren’t eligible to apply for any scholarships that require U.S. citizenship or a Social Security number. When searching for scholarships, carefully review the eligibility requirements and check if any residency or citizenship requirements are listed.

Don’t see any residency or citizenship requirements? Some students might assume just because the eligibility requirements don’t explicitly state it, that it’s OK for them to go ahead to apply. Don’t make any assumptions. If they don’t list citizenship requirements or don’t specifically indicate that undocumented or non-US citizens can apply, then you should contact the organization administering the scholarship to clarify. If you meet all the requirements listed with the exception of the residency or citizenship requirements, then you should still contact the scholarship provider to see if they will make an exception for you. It never hurts to ask!

Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About Yourself

For scholarships that are specifically for undocumented students, use your personal story to your advantage. In your personal statement, be sure to discuss your undocumented status, but don’t make it the centerpiece of your story. Undocumented students are often judged solely based on their undocumented status, so that’s why it’s important to highlight all of the accomplishments you’ve made despite the setbacks that being undocumented might bring.

Find Scholarships Here!

Cappex can help you find scholarships as well. When you create your free profile on Cappex, make sure to choose the “Non-US Citizen” option in the Citizenship drop box on the Basics portion of your profile. To be sure that your scholarship matches include scholarships for non-US citizens and undocumented students, visit the Expand Scholarship Search page by clicking the “Get More Matches Now” button at the bottom of the list of your Scholarship Matches. In the section with the heading, “Do any of these other qualifications apply to you or a family member,” check the boxes next to “Undocumented Student” and “Non-US Citizen/International Student.” That way Cappex can match you with scholarships that are more likely to be the right match for you. Remember, the more detailed and accurate information you put into your Cappex profile, the better scholarship matches you’ll receive.

Good luck!

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