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A Parent Quick Guide About College Access
Undocumented families are often misled about their chances of attending a college or university. Attending a college or a university is a student’s educational dream. Unfortunately, undocumented students are not always informed about college access and the process. Sometimes students think that high school is the highest level of education they can achieve in America.
Figuring out the college access as undocumented students and the application process in the United States can be very overwhelming. Nevertheless, there is a lot of undisclosed information that families and students are often not aware of about college entrance.
APPROXIMATELY 65,000 UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS GRADUATE FROM U.S. HIGH SCHOOLS EVERY YEAR, AND ONLY 5-10% OF THEM ENROLL IN COLLEGE.newscenter.sdsu.edu
As an immigrant, I moved to the U.S. in middle school. It was a challenge to figure out where and how to apply for college while in high school. The experience of learning English as a second language and figuring out college applications was not an easy task.
Fortunately, several colleges and universities have opened their doors to undocumented students. Families must consider several things before they apply to a university. Keep in mind that the application process differs depending on who’s undocumented in the family. The application process involves the completion of a Federal Student Aid form, as shared below.
Fear of Disclosure
The fear of schools to disclose undocumented student information is a concern often expressed by students in schools.
Fear of disclosure is one of the main reasons why undocumented students do not pursue higher education. The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act is an education act that protects undocumented students. The act states that it is against the law for schools to disclose a student’s immigration status without permission.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a form completed by current and prospective college students in the United States. The form determines a student’s eligibility for student financial aid. Additionally, the FAFSA form determines whether a student qualifies for financial loans.
Most colleges and universities use and require families to complete their forms. Parents without a social security number should have their students print the FAFSA form. Subsequently, the form is then signed and sent in regular mail to the address shown on the application.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if both parents are undocumented, but the student was born in the U.S.?
If the student was born in the United States, then he/she may qualify for financial aid. Enter 000-00-0000 as the social security number on the FAFSA form under the parent information section. If the student’s FAFSA is selected for verification, the parents will be required to provide an IRS tax transcript.
Documented students such as U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible for in-state tuition. This applies regardless of the immigration status of their parents. If you do not have a tax return you may report income information may be entered manually on the form.
What if the parents and the student are undocumented?
Undocumented students are not eligible for federal student aid. However, some states do extend in-state tuition to undocumented students who graduated from an in-state high school. Additionally, some students may qualify for private scholarships. Students without a social security number should not complete a FAFSA form. Only DACA recipients with a social security number shall complete a FAFSA form.
Planning and Applying for College
Students should begin to review and plan for college at the latest when they enter 11th grade. As an undocumented student, you should consider taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses during your last two years of high school. Advanced Placement courses provide high school students the opportunity to get college credits while in high school.
As a result, taking AP courses may be one way to reduce the number of classes you will need to pay in college. Begin your school search early to figure out which schools welcome undocumented students and which schools offer in-state tuition.
Early planning is an essential piece of the college planning puzzle. This is because out of state tuition tends to cost twice as much. You may also want to look for colleges that have organizations or groups that support and guide undocumented students.
There are options for undocumented students to attend college. Fortunately, some universities and states provide college access and welcome undocumented students. Students must begin their search early to find colleges and universities that are friendly to undocumented students. Click this link to see a list of colleges and universities that welcome undocumented students.
Share your experience or what you know about the process of applying for colleges for undocumented students.