FAFSA Information for Non-Citizens

Getting FAFSA for international students is a topic that may not apply to everyone, but those who are affected by it need to know this important information. Education is a vital tool that can be used to empower anyone, regardless of their age, sex or nationality.

However, in the U.S., while there are tons of unique and excellent educational experiences, there is also a constantly changing economy. Higher education costs have only gone up over the past few decades, and that rise has shown no signs of slowing down. These education expenses affect everyone, but they can sometimes serve to exclude marginalized groups who may need it the most.

This is why eligible non-citizen FAFSA is so important in allowing many more people to have access to a quality U.S. education. Known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA is a federal financial aid program that is operated out of the U.S. Department of Education (ED). This program takes a close look at applicants’ income levels, family dependency status, previous education and even citizenship status to help determine whether you are eligible for a loan, grant or work-study program. This article will take a deeper look at how FAFSA can potentially benefit students who are not native U.S. citizens, and how you can get education benefits if that description applies to you.

Can international students apply for FAFSA benefits?

If you are wondering, “Can international students apply for FAFSA?” then you might be one of the many non-citizens of the U.S. who are in the country for educational reasons. The broadest answer to this question is that many different types of foreign-born individuals can receive FAFSA, as long as they can prove their status with the ED and their college or university’s financial aid office. Some of the many FAFSA qualified non-citizen groups that are eligible to receive this sort of aid include:

  • Natives of U.S. territories, including American Samoa, Swains Island and more
  • Legal Permanent Residents, or other such green card holders
  • Refugees and asylum seekers with proper documentation
  • T-Visa holders, or other such victims of human trafficking
  • “Battered Immigrant-qualified Aliens,” who are spouses or children to a U.S. citizen

You may be asked for a number of different documents that can prove these statuses, which must often be resubmitted each semester in order to prove that your citizenship status has been maintained.

Why are the FAFSA citizenship requirements important?

Getting FAFSA for undocumented students is a relevant topic today more than ever before. With the U.S. policies on immigration changing at a rapid pace, there are many residents of the United States that may be confused or anxious about how they will be affected by new policies. While the purpose of FAFSA is to benefit those who need financial help the most, this government aid is not designed for everyone.

Related Article: Receiving Your Federal Student Aid

If you are in any country illegally, it only stands to reason that you may not be eligible for the benefits and services of that country. Most colleges and universities do advanced vetting of their students to make sure that everything is up to legal standards, but there are rare occasions where someone may slip through the cracks. As long as you are willing to work with the ED and your university, determining your citizenship should be a fast and easy process.

DACA FAFSA Guidelines

Do DACA students qualify for FAFSA? This is a question that has changed dramatically over the past decade, and so it is important to get the most up-to-date information. DACA stands for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which since 2012 has allowed for children who came to the United States illegally to defer their removal from the country, register to work legally in the country and more.

Individuals under this program are able to attend U.S. universities, but they are still primarily unable to receive federal student aid. However, these students can apply to receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), which will allow them to show their financial need to their university and private institutions that might be willing to provide them with financial aid. This can allow them to receive limited forms of education cost assistance.

The DACA FAFSA guidelines that do exist are set in place in order to account for the five states that do use state financial aid services for undocumented students, which are Washington, California, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. These states may not always refer to their undocumented student services as FAFSA, but they do provide state government funds.

You can learn how to access specialized loans and grants to qualifying students. Many DACA students may be afraid to apply for this aid, especially if their parents are still living in the country illegally. However, even if a DACA recipient’s parents are still technically illegal immigrants, these states will not ask for their citizenship statuses in order to allow as many vulnerable students to get financial aid as possible.

What are the FAFSA citizenship requirements if you are not an eligible non-citizen?

The many different FAFSA citizenship requirements discussed above provide plenty of concessions for students of U.S. universities to get the financial aid that they need, even if they are an eligible non-citizen. However, can you get this aid if you do not fall under eligible non-citizenship? In most cases, the answer to this question is “no,” but there are some instances wherein this scenario may be possible. While you cannot get FAFSA itself under these circumstances, you can get some sort of financial aid if:

  • Your country’s embassy or consulate offers educational aid.
  • Your college or university has a special aid program for which your eligibility.
  • You qualify for a special U.S. Department of Labor scholarship.
  • You qualify for some other kind of financial benefit through Education USA.

Whether or not you have access to eligible non-citizen financial aid , there are nearly always options that you can look for if you are a non-citizen student in the United States. By doing all of the proper research into your higher education costs and potential financial aid options, you can get the education that you want for the lowest possible cost, regardless of your citizenship status.

Related Article: FAFSA Deadlines

It might also interest you: