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FAFSA for Non-Citizen Permanent Residents: Explained

FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a crucial financial aid application for students in the United States. It helps determine a student’s eligibility for various federal grants, loans, and work-study programs. While FAFSA is primarily designed for U.S. citizens, there are provisions for non-citizen permanent residents to apply as well. In this article, we will explore the FAFSA process for non-citizen permanent residents, including eligibility requirements, application procedures, and important considerations.

Understanding Non-Citizen Permanent Residents

Before delving into the details of FAFSA for non-citizen permanent residents, it is essential to understand who falls under this category. Non-citizen permanent residents, also known as green card holders, are individuals who have been granted lawful permanent residence in the United States. They have the right to live and work in the country indefinitely and enjoy many of the same benefits as U.S. citizens, including access to federal financial aid for education.

Non-citizen permanent residents can obtain a green card through various means, such as family sponsorship, employment-based immigration, refugee or asylum status, or through the Diversity Visa Lottery program. Once they have obtained a green card, they are eligible to apply for federal financial aid through FAFSA.

Eligibility Requirements for Non-Citizen Permanent Residents

While non-citizen permanent residents are eligible to apply for federal financial aid, they must meet certain requirements to be considered for assistance. The key eligibility criteria for non-citizen permanent residents applying for FAFSA include:

  • Having a valid green card or an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) showing refugee or asylum status
  • Being a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Having a valid Social Security number
  • Having a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate
  • Being enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an eligible degree or certificate program at an accredited institution
  • Meeting the satisfactory academic progress requirements set by the institution
  • Not being in default on any federal student loans
  • Not owing a refund on any federal student grants
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It is important to note that non-citizen permanent residents must meet these requirements in addition to any specific eligibility criteria set by the individual colleges or universities they are applying to. Some institutions may have additional requirements or restrictions for non-citizen students, so it is crucial to research and understand the policies of each institution before applying.

The FAFSA Application Process for Non-Citizen Permanent Residents

The FAFSA application process for non-citizen permanent residents is similar to that of U.S. citizens. Here are the steps involved:

  1. Gather the necessary documents: Non-citizen permanent residents will need their Social Security number, green card or I-94, and any other relevant financial documents, such as tax returns or W-2 forms.
  2. Create an FSA ID: The FSA ID is a username and password that serves as your electronic signature for the FAFSA. Non-citizen permanent residents can create an FSA ID on the Federal Student Aid website.
  3. Complete the FAFSA form: Non-citizen permanent residents should fill out the FAFSA form online at They will need to provide personal and financial information, including their Social Security number, income details, and information about their parents’ income if they are considered dependent students.
  4. Include school codes: Non-citizen permanent residents should list the school codes for the colleges or universities they are applying to on the FAFSA form. This ensures that the financial aid information is sent to the appropriate institutions.
  5. Submit the FAFSA form: After completing the FAFSA form, non-citizen permanent residents should review the information for accuracy and submit the form online. They will receive a confirmation email once the form has been successfully submitted.
  6. Review the Student Aid Report (SAR): After submitting the FAFSA, non-citizen permanent residents will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) via email. The SAR summarizes the information provided on the FAFSA and includes the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is used to determine the student’s eligibility for financial aid.
  7. Follow up with the institutions: Non-citizen permanent residents should contact the financial aid offices of the colleges or universities they are applying to and inquire about any additional documentation or steps required for non-citizen students.
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It is important to complete the FAFSA form as early as possible to maximize the chances of receiving financial aid. The FAFSA opens on October 1st each year, and some states and institutions have their own deadlines, so it is crucial to check the specific deadlines for each school.

Considerations for Non-Citizen Permanent Residents

While non-citizen permanent residents are eligible to apply for federal financial aid through FAFSA, there are some important considerations to keep in mind:

  • Dependency status: Non-citizen permanent residents may be classified as dependent or independent students for FAFSA purposes. The dependency status is determined by various factors, including age, marital status, and financial support. Dependent students may need to provide their parents’ financial information on the FAFSA form.
  • State and institutional aid: In addition to federal aid, non-citizen permanent residents may also be eligible for state and institutional financial aid. Each state and institution has its own eligibility criteria and application process, so it is important to research and apply for these additional sources of aid.
  • Renewal of financial aid: Non-citizen permanent residents must renew their FAFSA application each year to continue receiving financial aid. The renewal process involves updating the information on the FAFSA form and submitting it before the specified deadline.
  • Other scholarship opportunities: Non-citizen permanent residents should explore other scholarship opportunities that are open to non-U.S. citizens. Many organizations and foundations offer scholarships specifically for immigrant students, so it is worth researching and applying for these additional sources of funding.


FAFSA provides an important avenue for non-citizen permanent residents to access federal financial aid for their education. By understanding the eligibility requirements, completing the application process, and considering additional sources of aid, non-citizen permanent residents can make the most of the opportunities available to them. It is crucial to stay informed, research individual college policies, and seek guidance from financial aid offices to navigate the FAFSA process successfully. With the right information and preparation, non-citizen permanent residents can pursue their educational goals and build a brighter future.

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