Being an undocumented student in the United States is hard. You know that your K-12 education is freely available to you, but what about higher education? Many undocumented students dream of going to college in the Fall alongside their peers but lack an understanding of the boundaries that may or may not be in their way. 

Luckily, there is no law – either federal or state – that does not allow you to attend college. But each college IS allowed to set its own application standards, which might require proof of citizenship. Let’s take a look at which states, schools, and scholarships are the most helpful in fulfilling your college dream. 

States That Support Undocumented Students

Aside from the barrier of application requirements that might include proof that you are a US citizen, some states do not legally allow an undocumented student to receive in-state tuition. This is important because in-state tuition is much lower than out-of-state tuition costs. Even if you have lived in the state your entire life and now want to attend school there, being undocumented will not allow you to take advantage of the lower tuition rate. 

But this is not true of all states. As of 2021, the following states allow for such students to receive in-state tuition rates, given a few requirements (such as attending high school in that state for 2 years): 

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • District of Columbia (Washington, DC)

Several of these states will also allow you to receive state financial aid benefits, which will be an important factor in paying that in-state tuition.

Schools That Support You

In each of the above states, several universities and colleges allow for undocumented individuals to apply. You can find extensive lists for each state here

But there’s also the question of which campuses are particularly supportive and enthusiastic about having said students in their student body. Atmosphere is very important when it comes to choosing a college campus for the next 4 years. 

When it comes to schools that support their undocumented learners, it might be better to go to a private school than a public one, simply depending on which state you are in and the options available to you. Check out this list of schools with public policies on their acceptance of undocumented students, or this full list of schools that provide need-blind admission, with some that provide fully demonstrated financial need. 

Scholarships To Get You There

Because many states will not allow for undocumented learners to gain state financial aid legally, private scholarships are even more important for these students. What’s more, many private schools will offer larger scholarships unique to that particular school and allow undocumented applicants to participate in the scholarship process. There are also private student loan options that might be worth exploring. Check out three organizations in this article that offer such scholarships for undocumented students. 

College Is for YOU

With research and hard work, you too can live the college dream. Need help navigating the many regulations and hurdles for an undocumented student that dreams of college? A college advisor can help. Contact My Advisor Says today to get started.

Additional Resources: DACA and Undocumented Student Guide from MSW Degrees. 

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