How To Pay For College as an Undocumented Student
There are two basic types of financial aid — gift aid and self-help aid.
- Gift aid is assistance received that does not typically have to be repaid. For example, scholarships and grants typically do not need to be paid back.
- Self-help aid includes work opportunities and loans. This is called self-help because the individual takes responsibility for receiving this type of aid. For example, Federal Work-Study programs and loans are self-help aid and do need to be earned or paid back.
Financial aid comes from many different sources, including the federal government, the State of Illinois (for Illinois residents), your college, and/or your employer or your parent’s employer. Plus, there are many private sources that provide financial aid, such as agencies, associations, and organizations (e.g., corporations, civic, religious, philanthropic groups, and associations related to your field of interest).
You can improve your chances of obtaining financial aid by planning ahead, applying early and reading directions carefully. Since private financial aid programs generally have early deadlines, start researching these sources during your sophomore or junior year of high school, or two to three years before you plan to attend college. You can find information on this website about financial aid planning, colleges, libraries, and related publications. You can apply for as many different types of financial aid as you’d like. Learn more about types of financial aid
Federal Student Aid and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- As an undocumented or DACA student, am I eligible for federal student aid?
No. Undocumented students, including DACA students, are not eligible for federal student aid. However, you may be eligible for state or college financial aid, in addition to private scholarships. Learn about financial aid at MCC
- How do I apply for state and college financial aid?
- What is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®)?
You can apply for apply for federal grants, work-study, and loans with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), if you are eligible. Your college uses your FAFSA data to determine your federal aid eligibility. Many states and colleges use FAFSA data to award their own aid.
- To complete the FAFSA® form, do I need a Social Security number (SSN)?
Yes. An SSN is necessary to complete the FAFSA form. If you are completing a FAFSA form online at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa or through the myStudentAid mobile app, an SSN is also required to create a username and password called the FSA ID, which can be used to electronically sign the FAFSA form and to access the myStudentAid mobile app.
Most undocumented students aren’t eligible for an SSN; thus, they cannot complete the FAFSA form. However, DACA students with SSNs can complete the FAFSA form.
For information about obtaining an SSN, visit ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10009.pdf. If your FAFSA form is rejected due to an issue with your SSN, contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY for the deaf or hard of hearing 1-800-325-0778).
- Do I have to pay back FAFSA?
Once you graduate, drop below half-time enrollment, or leave school, your federal student loan goes into repayment. However, if you have a Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, or Federal Family Education Loan, you have a six-month grace period before you are required to start making regular payments. You’ll have a nine-month grace period if you’ve got a Perkins Loan. (Got a PLUS loan? You’ll go into repayment as soon as the loan is fully disbursed—which means once it’s paid out. But if you’re a graduate and professional student PLUS borrower, you will be placed on an automatic deferment while in school and for six months after graduating, leaving school, or dropping below half-time enrollment.)
Note: When your loan enters repayment, your servicer will automatically place you on the Standard Repayment Plan. You can request a different repayment plan at any time.
You can make prepayments on your loan while you are in school or during your grace period. Be aware, however, that any prepayment you make will not count as a qualifying payment in any loan forgiveness programs.
Your loan servicer will provide you with a loan repayment schedule that states when your first payment is due, the number and frequency of payments, and the amount of each payment.
Your billing statement will tell you how much to pay. Your monthly payment amount depends on your repayment plan. If you sign up for electronic communication, pay attention to your email. Most loan servicers send an email when your billing statement is ready for you to access online.
You may be eligible to qualify for loan forgiveness if you are a student that meets certain requirements. Follow the link below for more information. https://studentaid.gov/es/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation
- Can I complete the FAFSA even if my parents don’t have a Social Security Number - is it safe?
Yes. Since your parents’ citizenship doesn’t affect your ability to complete the FAFSA form, they don’t need Social Security Numbers (SSNs). If your parents don’t have SSNs, they must enter 000-00-0000 when the FAFSA form asks for their SSNs. If your parents don’t have SSNs, they won’t be able to create FSA IDs and therefore won’t be able to sign your FAFSA form electronically. You’ll have to print out the signature page from the online FAFSA form so that your parents can sign it and mail it to the address indicated.
- What is the RISE Application and how is it different from FAFSA?
The RISE Act provides an application process for state financial aid consideration other than using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), which is used to qualify for both federal and state aid. Undocumented and transgender students may choose the application process that best suits their individual situation.
FAFSA is able to award state and federal funds, while DACA can only award state allocated resources.
Visit www.isac.org/students/before-college/financial-aid-planning/retention-of-illinois-rise-act/FAQs-alternative-application.html for more clarification on this application.
Illinois Financial Aid
- As an undocumented or DACA student, am I eligible for in-state tuition?
It depends. In some states, undocumented students, or specifically DACA students, are eligible to receive in-state tuition. Contact Financial Aid at (815) 455-8761 for more information.
- What is the RISE Act?
The Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act allows eligible undocumented students and transgender students who are disqualified from federal financial aid to apply for all forms of state financial aid. The Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid provides a pathway for these qualified students to apply for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants, the state's largest need-based grant program for low-income college students.
The RISE Act also removed the 75-hour cap on Monetary Award Program (MAP) paid credit hours for freshmen and sophomores as of January 1, 2020. The overall maximum of 135 MAP paid credit hours remains in effect.
Stop by www.mchenry.edu/financialaid/rise.html for more information and to begin your application.
- I submitted the Rise Act application, who can I go to for further information about the status of my application?
After you have submitted your Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid you will receive an email letting you know that the application was received. You will then have to contact the Financial Aid department at (815) 455-8761 or by email at email@example.com, to find out the status of your application and award.
We invite you to visit www.mchenry.edu/financialaid/rise.html. This is our dedicated website with more detailed information about this application and related processes.
- Are there student employee positions I am eligible for?
- Find a job through a U.S. employer. As a DACA beneficiary, you scored an EAD and a social security number. Take full advantage of those documents by finding a job on or off campus. Despite your DACA approval, you are still not eligible for a work-study arranged through the federal government, but you can take charge of your own job search. Check with your school’s employment office to see if it has any positions open outside of work-study. Otherwise, explore the neighboring area. What restaurants, offices, hotels, and stores are nearby?
- Become an independent contractor. An independent contractor is a person or business that provides services to another operation as specified in a verbal agreement or written contract. Independent contractors are not employees; they are freelancers. Their contracts with outside businesses will state whether the work is paid hourly or with a flat fee, and the freelancer will submit an invoice for his or her services. Unlike employees, independent contractors use their own facilities and supplies such as computers and cars. They also set their own schedules and decide when and how to perform their jobs. Businesses often hire independent contractors for special projects in writing and translation services, marketing, graphic design, IT work, carpentry, and many other fields.
- Contact Career Services to learn about internships. An internship is a position typically held by students or a trainee at a company or institution. An internship may be paid, for credit, or neither. These positions allow individuals to gain experience in the workforce, which allows them to determine interests or solidify current pathways they want to pursue.
- Renew your DACA so that you can work in the United States after graduation too. Your DACA is a temporary solution to your absence of legal immigration papers, and your EAD will expire two years after the date of issue. Renewing your DACA is crucial if you hope to continue working in the United States indefinitely. In fact, with DACA, your opportunities after college are countless. The USCIS website recommends that you submit your DACA renewal request between 120 and 150 days before the expiration date of your EAD. For more information about renewing your DACA, consult a lawyer or the USCIS official website.
- On January 9, 2018, a federal judge issued an injunction allowing the temporary continuation of DACA. Individuals who held DACA status as of September 5, 2017, are now permitted to renew their status. This order only lasts until the resolution of a pending lawsuit filed to preserve the DACA program. Following the resolution, without any change in legislation, DACA protections will begin to expire.