Applying to College for US Citizens with Undocumented Parents

By Larissa Reza Garcia

In the United States, there are 4.5 million U.S citizen children with at least one undocumented parent. As a citizen of the United States, you can access postsecondary education and financial assistance to support you pay for your schooling regardless of your parent’s immigration status. Below is information that will assist you in accessing postsecondary education successfully. 

Have the conversation about attending college or a post-secondary program with your parents and/or guardian at the start of your senior year

You might still be figuring out what to do post-high school. Utilize your parents to support you during this process; this is new for them as well. If you need their support in the future, it might be easier to get them to help since they know your plans. 

You qualify for the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid or FASFA, even if your parents and/or guardian are undocumented.

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to accessing the FASFA is that U.S citizens with undocumented parents cannot access this application, that is NOT true. As a US Citizen, you qualify for federal financial aid and you can apply with the FAFSA. See this article for step by step instructions for completing the FAFSA. When completing the form remember the following:

Your parents cannot create an FSA ID or log in. No problem. This just means that they will not be able to sign the application electronically, and you will need to print the signature page and mail it to Federal Student Aid Programs P.O. Box 7652 London, KY 40742-7652. This is why it is crucial to start your FASFA as soon as the application opens since it will take you longer to get it processed. 

You cannot use the IRS data retrieval tool to support you in filling out the application. You will have to enter the information manually. No problem.

When you have reached the social security question for your parents and/or guardians, remember to input 000-00-0000 for that section. NOTE: the application might not let you move forward the first time and think the number you entered is an error, but continue to click next until it allows you to move forward. Eventually, it will work! DO NOT USE THE TAX IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (ITIN) YOUR PARENTS USE FOR TAXES OR ANY OTHER NUMBER OTHER THAN ALL ZEROS. 

Get paperwork ready

You will need your parents/and or guardian’s taxes to complete the FASFA. Once you have completed the application, you might be asked for a verification form from the school you are looking to attend. Don’t worry; this means you will need to provide a tax transcript and fill out the form they have emailed you. You can obtain a tax transcript online here or by visiting your local IRS office. Remember to call first; your parent/and or guardian will need to schedule an appointment and be the one who has to call and go with you to the IRS office. 

If you are not able to obtain tax records for your parents for any reason, contact your college’s financial aid office for options of other ways to verify income.

By law, schools are prohibited from sharing any of your information with Immigration Officials. That includes your parent’s information as well. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) has strict rules that protect the privacy of student information, and this includes your family’s information as well. This is another reason to talk with your parents at the start of your senior year, so they understand that their information is protected. 

Find your people in college

Meeting new people can be tough, but it is essential for you to be able to survive in college. Not saying you can’t do it alone, but it’s easier if you have other people. Find organizations on campus that fit your interests and make friends in your classes.