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Income and Financial Aid Eligibility

Mark Kantrowitz

September 22, 2009

My parents don’t have a Social Security Number. Is it possible for me to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and qualify for federal student aid? — Michelle G.

To be eligible for federal student aid, you must be a US citizen or permanent resident (green card holder). There are also a variety of types of noncitizens who are eligible for federal student aid, such as citizens of the Freely Associated States, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republics of Palau and the Marshall Islands. Individuals who have been granted asylum or refugee status and victims of human trafficking are eligible for federal student aid.

Your parents, however, do not need to be US citizens or permanent residents. They can be foreign nationals or even undocumented. If your parents do not have a Social Security Number, use 000-00-0000 on the FAFSA where it asks for the parent’s Social Security Number. Do not use a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).

If your parents are not US citizens or permanent residents, they will be unable to borrow from the PLUS loan program. In that case you will be eligible for increased unsubsidized Stafford loan limits, the same limits that are available to independent students.

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