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How Do You Complete the FAFSA When a Parent is Undocumented?

Mark Kantrowitz

August 02, 2010

I live with my mother and my brothers. My mother is undocumented and does not work. However, I am a permanent resident and my brothers were born here in the United States. We are receiving help from welfare as food stamps and cash for needy families. We are also living in a shelter. My question is: What kind of financial aid can I get if my mom cannot fill out the FAFSA? Can I fill out the FAFSA by myself? Is there another way that my mom can fill out the FAFSA? — Jose B.

As a permanent resident you are eligible for federal student aid regardless of whether your mother is a US citizen or not. You are also eligible for other forms of financial aid, including state grants and money from the colleges. Likewise your brothers will be eligible for student aid.

Your mother, however, will not be able to borrow from the Parent PLUS loan program, since she is not a US citizen or permanent resident. Instead, you will be eligible for the same unsubsidized Stafford loan limits available to independent students, namely $9,500 to $12,500 per year depending on the year in school and an aggregate limit of $57,500. You will need to talk to the college’s financial aid office to obtain these higher loan limits.

If you submit the FAFSA without your mother’s information, it will be rejected. Since your mother does not have a Social Security number, you will need to enter “000-00-0000” instead. If the form is still rejected, try resubmitting it. You may need to have your college’s financial aid administrator submit it on your behalf.

Discuss your situation with a financial aid administrator at the college. The financial aid administrator will be able to help you in other ways as well.

I am a bit confused about filling out the FAFSA form. Here are the facts: I was married, my husband left when I was 5 months pregnant, he hasn’t talked to or seen his son or myself in 15 years. Child support is taken out of his paycheck and ends the day my son graduates. I do not have my husband’s social security number, know how much he makes, his birth date or anything else about him. How do I complete the FAFSA? Single, with just my info? When it asks about support, I will not have that when he goes to college, do I list what I received for the prior year? — S. D.

If you are divorced, you are considered separated. Either way you should specify your marital status as “Divorced or separated” on the FAFSA and only your information will be required on the FAFSA. Your husband’s information will not be included on the FAFSA.

The child support you received from your husband last year should be reported on the form, even if it will be ending when your son enrolls in college. After you submit the FAFSA, ask the college for a professional judgment review to remove the child support from the FAFSA, based on the fact that the child support payments will be ending. Many colleges will make such an adjustment to the FAFSA. You cannot omit the child support on your own.


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