To complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) as an eligible non-citizen, use your Alien Registration Number (ARN) instead of a social security number. The rest of the process is very similar to how it works for citizens. When you are asked whether you are a citizen of the United States, you should choose the option to show that you are not a citizen but you are an eligible noncitizen. Here are some things to consider to decide if this is the right process for you.
How Do I Know If I Am an Eligible Noncitizen?
Eligible noncitizens fall into the following categories:
- Permanent residents with a card formerly known as a Green Card
- Conditional residents with an I-551C
- Those with an I-94 Arrival-Departure Record from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with one of these designations: Refugee, Asylum Granted, Indefinite Parole, Humanitarian Parole, or Cuban-Haitian Entrant
- Citizens of the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Federated States of Micronesia
- Those with a T-Visa
- Aliens who are battered immigrants qualified under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
All of your documentation must be up to date. If anything is expired, you are not eligible for federal student aid until it is renewed.
What Items Do I Need to Complete the FAFSA® as an Eligible Noncitizen?
Even though you can start filling out your FAFSA® stop, save, and finish it later, you can still save time by gathering all the documentation you need before you start. Here is a list of things you may need:
- Any documentation related to your status as an eligible noncitizen, especially your Alien Registration Number, which is used in lieu of a social security number
- Copies of your federal tax return, if you filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- Records of any untaxed income you receive
- Bank statements showing the balances in your checking, savings, and other accounts
- Records of any investments you have other than your personal residence
You can submit the FAFSA® in one of three ways. The first and most convenient is online. However, if you need to send a paper copy, you can print out a PDF form in English or Spanish and follow the instructions to mail it in. Finally, you can ask the school you are attending to transmit your FAFSA® electronically on your behalf. This is not available at every institution, so check with the Financial Aid office before you plan on it.
Once you have submitted your forms, watch your email closely. In a few days (if you submitted online), you will get a message letting you know your FAFSA® is being processed. You may receive follow-up messages asking for more documentation, either from the Department of Education or directly from your school. It’s important to submit whatever they ask for in a timely manner. It’s possible that you won’t receive anything else until you get the offer of a financial aid package.
If you’re an eligible noncitizen, don’t let misinformation keep you from pursuing your educational dreams.