Many non-U.S. citizens qualify for federal student aid as eligible noncitizens.

Learn who is considered an eligible noncitizen and help your students find out if they can receive federal student aid.

Non-U.S. Citizens

If you have students who are not U.S. citizens and want to find out if they can receive federal student aid, point them to StudentAid.gov/noncitizen for a list of the categories of noncitizens that qualify for federal student aid.

Tip: If the student provides some of his or her background, it's easier to find out what category he or she will fall in, rather than going over the categories one by one.

How should an eligible noncitizen student fill out the FAFSA?
Does the student's parents' U.S. citizenship or immigration status matter?
How should the student fill out the FAFSA if the parents have no Social Security numbers?
How should the student fill out the FAFSA if the family lives outside the United States?
Can an undocumented student get any kind of financial aid for college?


How should an eligible noncitizen student fill out the FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) gives the student the opportunity to self-report as an eligible noncitizen.

Tip: Students will often be worried how and when during the application process they will be asked about citizenship or immigration status. Show them the question in the FAFSA by using the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet. Knowing how the question will be asked will help them prepare, and not fear completing the application or run the risk of completing it wrong.

Talking point: If the student indicates on the FAFSA that he or she is an eligible noncitizen and reports an Alien Registration number, that information is checked against the database maintained by the Department of Homeland Security. If the match does not confirm the student is an eligible noncitizen, he or she will have to submit documentation to the college he or she plans to attend. A student is not eligible for federal student aid until his or her status as an eligible noncitizen is resolved.

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Does the student's parents' U.S. citizenship or immigration status matter?

The parents' immigration status is not taken into account in determining the student's eligibility for federal student aid.

Talking points:

  • When the FAFSA is processed, only the student's citizenship/eligible noncitizen eligibility is verified.
  • The citizenship status of the parents is not verified. Parents do not need to be U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens for their children to be eligible for federal student aid because the aid is given to the student.

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How should the student fill out the FAFSA if the parents have no Social Security numbers?

If the parent does not have a Social Security number, he or she must enter all zeros without dashes (e.g., 000000000).

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How should the student fill out the FAFSA if the family lives outside the United States?

The student must select “Foreign Country” if the parents' legal residence is in a foreign country.

For Mexico or the Canadian provinces, the student should type 00000 in the space for ZIP code. For all other addresses outside the United States, the student should do the following:

  • Write the city and country in the space for City (abbreviations are acceptable but must be understandable).
  • Choose “ Foreign Country” for the answer to the State question.
  • Enter 00000 in the space for ZIP code.

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Can an undocumented student get any kind of financial aid for college?

If the student is neither a citizen nor an eligible noncitizen, you can help him or her find possible sources of aid for ineligible noncitizens via StudentAid.gov/noncitizen and the following resources:

  • Listservs for counselors and college access professionals can be a good source of information on which schools provide aid for undocumented students.
  • The National Training for Counselors and Mentors program offers a fact sheet on counseling undocumented students about financial aid. The fact sheet includes information about states that offer in-state tuition at public colleges and lists organizations that provide scholarships or lists of scholarships.

Financial Aid and Undocumented Students(Result Type: PDF)
Description: Fact sheet that provides answers to frequently asked questions about financial aid for undocumented students and DACA students. [327 KB]
Resource Type: Handouts
Also Available in: Spanish(Result Type: PDF)

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