Financial aid is generally not available for undocumented students and illegal aliens. The majority of all student aid, including Federal student aid, requires the recipient to be a US citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) or an eligible non-citizen. There are, however, a few states that allow undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition rates. There are also several private scholarships available to undocumented students.Federal law passed in 1996 prohibits illegal aliens from receiving in-state tuition rates at public institutions of higher education. Specifically, Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 states: "an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, duration, and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident." Several states -- California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington -- have passed state laws providing in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens who have attended high school in the state for three or more years. These state laws attempt to circumvent the federal law by simply not asking students whether they are in the US legally. They also circumvent the law by basing eligibility for in-state tuition on attendance at or graduation from an in-state high school and not on state residence.There is pending legislation in the House and Senate that would repeal the Federal restriction and make college more affordable for illegal aliens, which is commonly known as the DREAM Act. It would also provide a mechanism for undocumented students of good moral character to become legal permanent residents and to qualify for Federal student aid. Additional information can be obtained from the National Conference of State Legislatures site.
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