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FAFSA for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Recipients: Financial Aid Tips

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients face unique challenges when it comes to pursuing higher education. One of the biggest hurdles they encounter is accessing financial aid. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial tool for students seeking financial assistance, but DACA recipients often have questions about their eligibility and the application process. In this article, we will explore the FAFSA for DACA recipients and provide valuable tips to help them navigate the financial aid landscape.

Understanding DACA and Financial Aid

DACA is an immigration policy that was introduced in 2012 by the Obama administration. It provides temporary protection from deportation and work authorization to individuals who were brought to the United States as children and meet certain eligibility criteria. While DACA recipients are not eligible for federal financial aid, they may still be eligible for state and institutional aid.

It is important for DACA recipients to understand the different types of financial aid available to them. State aid refers to financial assistance provided by individual states, while institutional aid is offered by colleges and universities. Both types of aid can help DACA recipients cover the cost of tuition, fees, and other educational expenses.

Researching State Aid Options

Each state has its own policies regarding financial aid for DACA recipients. Some states, such as California and Texas, have passed legislation that allows DACA recipients to qualify for state-funded financial aid programs. In these states, DACA recipients may be eligible for grants, scholarships, and other forms of financial assistance.

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It is crucial for DACA recipients to research the financial aid options available in their state. They should visit the websites of their state’s higher education agencies or contact the financial aid offices of colleges and universities to gather information about state-funded aid programs. Additionally, they can reach out to local immigrant advocacy organizations for guidance and support.

Exploring Institutional Aid Opportunities

Many colleges and universities offer institutional aid programs specifically designed for DACA recipients. These programs may include scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities. DACA recipients should research the financial aid policies of the colleges and universities they are interested in attending to determine if they offer any institutional aid for undocumented students.

When exploring institutional aid opportunities, DACA recipients should pay attention to the eligibility requirements and application deadlines. Some colleges and universities may require additional documentation or have specific criteria for awarding aid to DACA recipients. It is important to gather all the necessary information and submit the required documents on time to maximize the chances of receiving institutional aid.

Completing the FAFSA as a DACA Recipient

While DACA recipients are not eligible for federal financial aid, they are still required to complete the FAFSA to be considered for state and institutional aid. When filling out the FAFSA, DACA recipients should follow these tips:

  • Enter their DACA status in the appropriate section of the FAFSA form.
  • Leave the Social Security Number (SSN) field blank if they do not have an SSN.
  • Provide their Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) if they have one.
  • Include their parents’ financial information if they are considered dependent students.
  • Submit the FAFSA as early as possible to meet state and institutional aid deadlines.
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It is important for DACA recipients to be honest and accurate when completing the FAFSA. Providing false information can have serious consequences and may jeopardize their chances of receiving financial aid.

Seeking Additional Scholarships and Private Aid

In addition to state and institutional aid, DACA recipients can also explore other sources of financial assistance, such as scholarships and private aid. Many organizations, foundations, and private donors offer scholarships specifically for undocumented students, including DACA recipients.

DACA recipients should search for scholarships that are open to undocumented students and meet the eligibility criteria. They can use online scholarship search engines, visit college and university websites, and reach out to immigrant advocacy organizations for information about available scholarships. It is important to carefully review the requirements and deadlines for each scholarship and submit applications on time.


Accessing financial aid can be a complex process for DACA recipients, but with the right information and resources, they can overcome these challenges. By researching state and institutional aid options, completing the FAFSA accurately, and seeking additional scholarships and private aid, DACA recipients can increase their chances of receiving the financial assistance they need to pursue their educational goals.

It is important for DACA recipients to stay informed about changes in immigration policies and financial aid regulations. They should regularly check the websites of state higher education agencies, colleges, and universities for updates on financial aid opportunities for undocumented students. Additionally, they can seek guidance from immigrant advocacy organizations and connect with other DACA recipients who have successfully navigated the financial aid process.

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While the financial aid landscape for DACA recipients may present challenges, it is important for them to remember that they are not alone. There are resources and support available to help them overcome these obstacles and pursue their dreams of higher education. By staying informed, being proactive, and seeking assistance when needed, DACA recipients can access the financial aid they need to make their educational aspirations a reality.

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