While federal financial aid is largely restricted to United States citizens, the FSA does allow certain noncitizens residing in the US to receive federal aid for college. These individuals, known as “eligible noncitizens”, qualify for the same aid as US citizens.
Who qualifies as an eligible noncitizen?
In general terms, you are an eligible noncitizen if you are any of the following:
- 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 citizen of the Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Federated States of Micronesia
- 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)
You must have all the documentation related to your status, and the forms cannot be expired. If anything is out of date, you are not considered an eligible noncitizen until it’s renewed. Check everything ahead of time so you can update it without missing deadlines.
Filing your FAFSA® as an eligible noncitizen
The process of filing a FAFSA® as an eligible noncitizen does not differ from the process used by US citizens. As long as you have your US social security number, you’ll be able to file your FAFSA® online.
Most eligible non-citizens qualify for the same financial aid as US citizens, Citizens of the Republic of Palau are limited to Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and Work-Study. Citizens of the Federal States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands are limited to Pell Grants only.
Are Those Covered by DACA Considered Eligible Noncitizens?
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. They may still be eligible for state assistance, scholarships, and financial aid directly from the school, though, so they may still need to complete the FAFSA®.
If you are covered by DACA, contact the school you plan to attend and ask them if you should complete the FAFSA®. California, Washington, Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma all offer some form of state assistance to students covered by DACA.
Other Categories of In-eligible Non-citizens
If you have one of these, you are still not eligible for federal student aid but may be eligible for other programs.
- Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Residence (I-171 or I-464)
- An F1 or F2 student visa, or a J1 or J2 exchange visitor visa
- A G-series visa
- Certain other types of visas; check with your school’s financial aid office about your particular situation