Scholarships for Undocumented Students
Despite heated controversy over immigration laws as it appears on the nation's political agenda, at least seventeen states allow non-native students to pay in-state tuition after having passed a tuition equity bill. While they may seem scarce, there are plenty of scholarships for undocumented students. Not all scholarships will explicitly call for "undocumented" students - they may require students to have a specific status such as DACA, AB 540, etc. Some scholarships may not even ask about immigration status or citizenship, so you may qualify for those scholarships if you are currently undocumented. Make sure to check your state's immigration laws and policies when applying for scholarships and other forms of financial aid, in addition to reading all scholarship eligibility requirements.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an American immigration policy that allows certain undocumented students who entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June 2007, to receive a renewable, two-year work permit and exemption from deportation. In some states, like in California, AB 540 students may qualify to attend college and pay in-state tuition; being exempt from paying non-resident tuition. Be sure to know your status and all the eligibility requirements when applying for these kinds of scholarships.
There are specific organizations such as TheDream.Us that help immigrant youth and undocumented students who have received DACA status achieve their American Dream through the completion of a college education. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund also provides students a scholarship program, regardless of their immigration status, as long as students can demonstrate a commitment to advancing Latino civil rights through their career.
Not only do such organizations provide scholarship programs and opportunities, but they also have education resources based on your state - be sure to check your current or prospective college's scholarship and financial aid opportunities to help fund your college education. You may need to conduct some personal research and stay updated on immigration policies, as they are constantly fluctuating and may have some gray areas. Even if a state does not have a DREAM Act, schools may offer merit scholarships that are not tied to federal funding. And remember to conduct a free search to see what scholarships you may be eligible for.
Below are just some scholarships available to undocumented students, or ones that do not request immigration status or citizenship. Read the eligibility and status requirements carefully when applying. You can find more information on these and other awards by completing a profile and conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com.