THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF GETTING READY FOR UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS
YES, YOU CAN GO TO COLLEGE!
Colleges are open to undocumented students and some scholarships are available. Albeit, the process of planning for, applying to, and paying for college is sometimes intricate and involved – answers are not always simple and financial resources are limited.
The information in this space is general in nature and serves to:
Over the course of the last six decades, a number of key court rulings, statutes, legislative actions, and proposals have made it possible for undocumented students to gain greater access to colleges and universities.
Know your rights and responsibilities.
Under President Obama’s June 15, 2012 Executive Mandate, some individuals qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA, for short) program, part of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services department. Under DACA, children who came to the country under the age of 16 and prior to 2007 and meet other guidelines listed on the website below may requested consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization. Deferred Action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Deferred Action does not provide an individual with lawful status. Deferred Action is not a pathway to citizenship or permanent residency, nor does it allow the individual to seek federal or state college financial aid.
The total application fee is $464 ($380 fee plus an $85 fee for biometric services), payable by a money order to USCIS. The application forms (I-821D; I-765; i-765WS) and additional information can be found on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
Several states have passed laws allowing student who attend and graduate from in-state high schools to qualify for in-state tuition rates at their public colleges, regardless of immigration status.
In 2003, Illinois signed into law an in-state tuition bill (Public Act 93-0007) also referred to as House Bill 60. This law permits certain undocumented students who have attended and graduate from high school in Illinois to pay the same tuition rate as other classmates at public institutions.
The HB60 Higher Education In-State Tuition is primarily intended to help the children of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents and have worked hard at school with the hope of going to college.
In order to qualify for HB60 In-State Tuition rates (at public Illinois colleges or universities) under HB 60, undocumented student must meet the following requirements:
This HB60 law also provides the U.S. citizens and permanent residents who meet these requirements but no longer live in the state the ability to qualify for the same tuition rate.
The HB 60 In-State Tuition law requires undocumented students to sign an affidavit promising to legalize his or her immigration status as soon as eligible. The affidavits will be exchanged between the university or college and you (the student).
Affidavit (n). af•fi•da•vit [ àffi dáyvit ] A written version of a sworn statement: a written declaration made on oath before somebody authorized to administer oaths (such as a Notary Public)
Do not refrain from applying to public universities due to a concern that your information will be reported to a third party or governmental agency, such as Homeland Security Department. Bound by FERPA regulations, college staff members take necessary precautions to maintain confidentiality, and ensure that records are not shared, nor reported. Data collected from you are for the use of college admission and/or financial aid professionals only.
The Illinois DREAM Act (Public Act 097-0233), which borrows its name from a similar piece of federal legislation, is a state law that supports the college aspiration of children of immigrants in Illinois. The Act was signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn on August 1, 2011. Before heading to Governor Quinn’s desk for approval, the bill was passed in the state Senate and in the state House.
Illinois is the first state to approve a state-specific DREAM Act.
The Illinois DREAM Act was designed to make four major provisions in support of children of immigrants in Illinois:
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records at educational institutions — including high schools, colleges and universities. As a result, high schools and universities cannot release a student’s information, including the immigration status, except under very specific circumstances, such as a court order. For more information about what can be released about students, refer to the U.S. Department of Education website.
Any information that an undocumented student shares with a college or university is protected by FERPA.
Paying income taxes is the law for anyone who earns wages in the United States, including undocumented immigrants.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues an individualized taxpayer identification number (ITIN) to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN). ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have a U.S. tax filing or reporting requirement.
Important Note: ITINs are used for tax purposes only and are not intended to serve any other purpose. Do not use it in place of a social security number (SSN) on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
|What is an ITIN?||A tax processing number, issued by the Internal Revenue Service, for certain resident and nonresident aliens, their spouses, and their dependents. It’s a nine-digit number beginning with the number “9” and is formatted like a SSN (example: 9XX-7X-XXXX).|
|Can an ITIN be used on the FAFSA?||NO!!!! Absolutely not!|
|What is the purpose of an ITIN?||ITINs are used for tax purposes only and are not intended to serve any other purpose.|
|Who can get an ITIN?||Those not eligible for Social Security Numbers. It is only available to individuals who are required to have a taxpayer identification number for tax purposes.|
|How do I apply for an ITIN?||Use the latest revision of Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to apply available on the IRS website: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96287,00.html|
|Where do I find out more?||The IRS website: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96287,00.html|
Get comfortable asking for help. Planning for college is not something you do by yourself— it’s really a team effort. But it is up to you to put together your team. That means talking to the adults in your life who can help—from your parent, guardian or other family member to your teacher, school counselor, college coach, and mentors at local community organizations.
Seek guidance and get answers to your questions. School counselor and your college and career coach are two of your best resources when planning for college. Counselors and college coaches have information about admission tests, college preparation and your education and career options. They are aware of colleges that admit and grant institutional aid to undocumented students.
So, what are you waiting for?
Take the first step to college by making an appointment with your school counselor or college coach to discuss your Individual Learning Plan. Use our Counselor & College Coach Directory to find the counselors and college coaches at your school.
To help you get the conversation started, consider these questions:
Find family support. Even if you are the first in your family to go to college, your parents may have real experience and knowledge that can help you make the connection to college. Invite them to a college planning workshop. Check your school calendar for workshops at your school as well as the event calendar here on Choose Your Future for district wide workshops.
Connect with family, friends and neighbors who have been to college and ask them how they got there. As you take inventory of their tips and anecdotes, keep in mind that the information they share is sometimes based on perception and is not always factual. Also keep in mind that state and federal legislation is subject to change over time – what applied a few years ago, may not be true today.
For the most accurate information about getting ready for college, talk to your school counselor and your college and career coach.
To get into college, start by taking the right classes in high school.
Find out what classes you need to meet entrance requirements and sign up for them now. Lock in requirements. You may not need them to finish high school, but most colleges require three to four years of math, English, science and social studies. Plus, most want at least two years of the same foreign language.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing a college. If you’re just starting out, or if you’re already swamped with brochures and applications, the best way to decide which one is right for you is to determine your priorities.
To access contact information for colleges in Illinois, consider these trusted sources of information:
There are three main areas on the path to college where undocumented students may have special concerns or face obstacles:
When looking for a college, start by investigating the admission policies at each college and university. That is, find answers to this question:
Additional questions to help you get the conversation in motion:
When choosing a major (i.e. program of study), keep in mind that for undocumented students it may prove difficult to obtain certifications and state licenses that are required for some professions, such as teaching and nursing programs. This difficulty is due to requirements such as background checks, required social security numbers, and state examinations. Additionally, some majors may require field work and/or employment as part of their curriculum.
Some colleges offer hundreds of majors. Some students have known what they want to do since kindergarten. For others, it takes a little time. If you’re reading this and are wondering: But how do you pick just one area of specialization? Well, that’s the hard part.
Some basic questions to consider when choosing a major:
Generally, to be eligible for financial assistance from any federal or state sponsored student aid program, you must be either a U.S. citizen or have an immigration status that demonstrates that you are residing in the U.S. for other than a temporary purpose.
The following chart gives the financial aid eligibility status for U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, visa holders, and undocumented students.
Your parents’ immigration status is not an eligibility requirement. What matters in determining student eligibility for state and federal financial aid programs is the status of a student NOT that of a parent. For purposes of completing the Free Application for Federal Students Aid (FAFSA), if your parent(s) does not have a Social Security Number, you must enter 000-00-0000 in the parent section.
Eligibility for federal and state student aid is based on financial need and on several other factors. The financial aid administrator at the college or career school you plan to attend will determine your eligibility.
These are some of the requirements that you must meet to receive state or federal aid:
There are scholarships available for undocumented students through private organizations and some colleges and universities offer institutional scholarships and grants.
Think carefully about how to talk about immigration status on college and scholarship applications.
Never, ever misrepresent or lie about immigration status, social security numbers, etc…
Source: Chan, Beliza (2011). Financial Aid Guide for College-Bound Undocumented Students. Educators for Fair Consideration, 16.
Each college implements its own scholarship application procedures. If you are presented with a question that does not apply to you, do one of two things:
Staff at the college can then work with you on an individual basis and provide additional guidance to assist in the processing of your scholarship application.
Several businesses and philanthropic organizations provide scholarships to undocumented students. A variety of scholarship directories are available; they are included here for your convenience. Contact each scholarship provider for applications and details about requirements and deadlines.
Create lasting support networks that can offer ongoing mentoring and advice.
How to apply to colleges with the Common App
When DREAMers fill out the Common App, whether they’ve received DACA or not, please remember to use 000-00-000 on the field for the Social Security Number (SSN). This way colleges do not misinterpret the DACA SSN and offer DREAMers government-based funding that a student is not eligible for. We want you to avoid any confusion when it comes to government funded-aid the colleges may be looking to award to applicants, so all zeros is the way to go.
In addition, please remember that if you are a DACA recipient, having DACA does not mean that you are no longer an undocumented immigrant student, or DREAMer. Your immigration legal status remains the same, and in the state of Illinois, you are not eligible for any government-based funding. Therefore, in the Chicago Public Schools, we do not recommend that DACA-recipients complete the FAFSA form.
Do not forget to reach out to your counselor for further information.