If you’re not a United States citizen, you might be wondering what type of student aid a non-citizen gets. Receiving financial aid is one of the best ways to fund a college education, and provided you meet certain criteria, being approved for aid as a non-citizen isn’t as difficult as you might imagine.
Before you fill out your application, it’s a good idea to learn about the requirements you must meet as a non-citizen to receive student aid.
What Type of Student Aid Can a Non-Citizen Get?
In the U.S., eligible non-citizens can receive federal financial aid. Although it may be possible to also receive state and college-sponsored aid as a non-citizen, there will probably be additional requirements that you will have to meet. You should first apply for federal aid and then apply for other aid packages if you need additional funding.
The financial aid office at your college or university should be able to tell you what qualifications you will need to fulfill as a non-citizen.
Basic Requirements for Student Aid
If you are considering filing for federal aid but aren’t a U.S. citizen, then there are a variety of requirements you must meet. Primarily, you will need to prove that you are an eligible non-citizen who is legally allowed to live, work, and study in the United States. You can prove this in one of two ways.
First, you can be a U.S. national, which includes people either from the Swains Islands or American Samoa. Second, you can be a U.S. permanent resident who possesses either Form I-151, I-551, or I-551C. Form I-551C is more commonly known as a green card.
You may also be able to qualify for federal financial aid if you have received an Arrival-Departure Record from the USCIS. This form must show that asylum has been granted, you are a Cuban-Haitian entrant, you are a conditional entrant, you are a parolee, or you are a refugee.
Non-citizens who were victims of human trafficking and hold a T-visa, have parents with a T-visa, or are a battered immigrant-qualified aliens can also apply for federal aid.
If you hold citizenship in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Republic of Palau, your federal aid options will mostly be limited to Pell Grants. Republic of Palau citizens can also apply for work-study grants and supplemental educational opportunity grants.
When Non-Citizens Don’t Qualify for Student Aid
As you can see, there are a variety of situations where an eligible non-citizen can receive financial aid for college. However, there are also certain situations where you will not qualify. Examining these issues can help you decide whether you should apply for aid.
First, non-citizens who only have a Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Residence and have not actually received their permanent resident status are not allowed to receive financial aid. Secondly, certain types of visas are excluded from federal financial aid, including an F1/2 student visa and a J1/J2 exchange visitor visa. People holding a G series visa will also be unable to receive federal aid.
If you belong to these excluded groups, you may need to seek alternative funding sources like loans or private scholarships.
What if I’m not an eligible noncitizen, can I get any type of financial aid to study in the U.S.?
- Contact your country’s embassy or consulate in the U.S.
- Ask the school you plan to attend if they offer any financial aid to international students like you.
- Use the U.S Department of Labor’s free online scholarship search.
- Search the Education USA website.
Do I qualify for in-state tuition as an undocumented student?
It depends. In some states, undocumented students, especially DACA students, are eligible to receive in-state tuition. You should check with your college or career school’s financial aid office. Each school and state has its requirements for students to be eligible for financial aid.