3 Promising Financial Aid Efforts For Undocumented Students

By Katy Hopkins, Communications Staff 

Undocumented youth in the United States face numerous hurdles – and paying for college is chief among them, according to a new report from the Migration Policy Institute. 

In “Lessons from the Local Level: DACA's Implementation and Impact on Education and Training Success,” Migration Policy Institute (MPI) authors studied federal, state and institutional efforts to help undocumented students. While 20 states have passed some type of legislation to address this cohort, most still do not extend financial aid opportunities to undocumented students. And since they can’t apply for federal financial aid, college remains an expensive prospect, even in the minority of states where undocumented students are eligible for in-state tuition. 

Still, some promising efforts are underway in some states and at specific institutions, the MPI report found. Here’s a look at a few of them:  

1. Targeted scholarships: National funding opportunities exist for undocumented students, though MPI notes that they are in short supply. Since 2013, national scholarship program Dream.US has filled the gap between tuition and fees and its recipients’ financial aid awards, according to the MPI report. Though Dream.US is only open to students who have applied for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), other scholarships are open to all undocumented students, regardless of DACA status, the report notes. 

2. Support: To help undocumented students through school, some institutions offer centralized resource centers with counseling on academic and financial matters, among other issues, the MPI report notes. At the University of California-Los Angeles, the Bruin Center’s Undocumented Student Program provides career counseling, need-based financial support, and offers DACA renewal workshops, among other resources. 

Elsewhere in the state, California State University-Northridge is opening an Undocumented Student Resource Center, where students can attend financial aid workshops, among other programs, according to the report.

3. Designated financial aid contacts: Some institutions, like the University of Texas Pan-American, have a specific professional to help undocumented students, while others, such as Maryland’s Montgomery College, are training whole staffs on the basics of DACA and institutional eligibility, the report notes. 

For more information on each of the efforts outlined above, take a look at the MPI’s full report. Don’t forget to consider these "5 Tips for Advising Undocumented Students About Financial Aid," from our Voices From The Aid Office series, as well as our Student Aid Perspectives: "Deferred Action for 'Dreamers': Advising DACA Students About Affording College." 


Publication Date: 1/12/2015

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