Heads up: This article is out of date! Find current financial aid information here.The Immigration Policy Center estimates that “approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school” annually. DACA students are defined as a subgroup of these undocumented students who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
What is Deferred Action?The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines "deferred action" as "a discretionary determination to defer a removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. For purposes of future inadmissibility based upon unlawful presence, an individual whose case has been deferred is not considered to be unlawfully present during the period in which deferred action is in effect. An individual who has received deferred action is authorized by DHS to be present in the United States, and is therefore considered by DHS to be lawfully present during the period deferred action is in effect. However, deferred action does not confer lawful status upon an individual, nor does it excuse any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence. Under existing regulations, an individual whose case has been deferred is eligible to receive employment authorization for the period of deferred action, provided he or she can demonstrate “an economic necessity for employment.” DHS can terminate or renew deferred action at any time, at the agency’s discretion."
Am I a DACA Student?DACA students are a subgroup of a larger group defined as undocumented students or, sometimes referred to as “Dreamers” (derived from the DREAM Act). Students that qualify for deferred action generally come to the United States as a child and must meet certain guidelines as outlined on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) web site, under Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Deferred action is granted on a case-by-case basis according to DACA guidelines. You can also check out these frequently asked questions about DACA for more information.
How Can I Become a DACA Student?If you’d like to find out if you’re eligible for deferred action, you can contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), within the Department of Homeland Security, to request consideration of deferred action. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) by USCIS for a period of two years and may be renewed for qualifying individuals. Technically, “deferred action” does not provide an individual with lawful citizenship status; however, if granted deferred action, you may obtain work authorization.
What Citizenship Status Should DACA Students Indicate on the FAFSA?DACA students should select “neither citizen nor eligible non-citizen” under the question that reads, “Are you a U.S. citizen?” on the FAFSA.
Should DACA Students Fill Out the FAFSA?Although undocumented students (including DACA students) are not eligible for federal student aid, they should still fill out the FAFSA as they may qualify for state or college aid, depending upon the state and the school.
Are DACA Students Able to Fill Out the FAFSA?DACA students are able to fill out their FAFSA online or a hard copy. As long as you have a social security number, you can fill out the FAFSA online. Students who are granted deferred action and employment authorization may be eligible to obtain social security numbers. Gain more information on obtaining a social security number.
Will My Parents’ Citizenship Effect My Eligibility?No – a parent status will not impact a student’s eligibility for financial aid. The FAFSA does not ask for a parent’s citizenship.
What If My Parents Don’t Have Social Security Numbers?Parents’ citizenship does not affect a student’s ability to complete the FAFSA. Your parents don’t need to have social security numbers in order to fill out the FAFSA. If parents do not have social security numbers, the student should enter 000-00-0000 for their parents’ social security numbers on the FAFSA. Additionally, students will have to print out the signature page from the online FAFSA for parents without social security numbers to sign and send in.
Resources for Students Who Are Non-U.S. Citizens:• Federal Student Aid General Resources • Federal Student Aid Resources for Non-U.S. Citizens • Financial Aid and Undocumented Students Information Sheet
DACA Resources:• General Information About DACA • Frequently Asked Questions About DACA • Obtaining a Social Security Number
Information on the DREAM Act:• DREAM Act Facts • The DREAM Act Testimony
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