Strictly speaking, financial aid through the Federal Student Aid program is reserved for US citizens and eligible non-citizens. Despite not being eligible for federal aid, international students can file a FAFSA® to be considered by their school for school and state-provided financial aid.
Who is an eligible non-citizen?
The FSA classifies the following individuals as eligible non-citizens:
- A permanent resident with a “Green Card”
- An I-551C conditional permanent resident
- A person with an Arrival-Departure Record I-94 from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with any of these designations: Refugee, Asylum Granted, Indefinite Parole, Humanitarian Parole, or Cuban-Haitian Entrant
- A holder of a T-visa, which is issued to victims of human trafficking, or you are the child of someone who holds this type of visa
- A battered immigrant-qualified alien, meaning you are a victim of abuse or the child of a victim as defined by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
Additionally, residents of the Republic of Palau are eligible for the Pell Grant, the FSEOG Grant, and the federal work-study program. Citizens of the Federal States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands are eligible for the Pell Grant.
U.S. nationals from American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands are eligible for all forms of federal financial aid.
Eligible non-citizens should be prepared to provide any relevant paperwork to confirm their eligibility. Green cardholders will need to provide their Alien Registration Number on their FAFSA® in addition to their U.S. social security number.
Filing a FAFSA® as an International Student
International students who do not qualify as eligible non-citizens can still file their FAFSA® to be considered for financial aid provided at the school and state level.
Without a U.S. social security number, international students will need to print out a FAFSA® and mail the physical copy to the FSA. Once you have confirmed with the FSA that your FAFSA® has been received, ask your school’s financial aid office to request that your application be released to your school.
Your school will use your FAFSA® to determine your eligibility for scholarships, loans and grants that are provided by the school, the state and other miscellaneous entities.
After filing your FAFSA®, contact your school’s financial aid office and your local embassy to see what other financial assistance options may be available to you.
FAFSA® for Dreamers
People covered under the Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are not considered eligible noncitizens, and they are therefore not able to receive federal student aid.
Like international students, DACA students can still file their FAFSA® to qualify for other forms of financial aid. While the FSA does confirm the citizenship status of students and parents listed on a FAFSA®, that information is never used for the purposes of deportation.