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Colleges checking immigration status

Posted by Maria Elena 
Maria Elena
Colleges checking immigration status
May 31, 2010 11:10AM
More and more universities are asking for social security number or proof of immigration status. I had been admitted and received a scholarship for the first year in my school and have now been asked to prove that I'm working on getting my papers. Is there something I can do? They won't give me another scholarship unless I prove my status.
If you're attending a public college/university, you may not be able to do much. The anti-immigrant sentiment is growing, as I'm sure you know. Private colleges/universities have more flexibility.

Find a staff member who you think may be an ally and ask a parent or friend to call anonymously and ask about possibilities for undocumented students. They might say, "I [or a student of mine] is interested in attending your school. She has excellent grades that are likely to qualify her for scholarships. However, we wanted to check about her eligibility for these scholarships since she is undocumented. I have heard that students need to show proof of working on documentation. As soon as the DREAM Act becomes law, she certainly will be able to. In the meantime, she's stuck. Is it possible still for her to receive any scholarships you might see her as qualified for?"

No need to give names. If they're already asking you for paperwork, unfortunately, you may get the same answer with the anonymous call. Do ask if they have any suggestions or recommendations.

If there is any staff member you trust, whether in admissions, financial aid, or professor, you might try confiding in them to see if they have suggestions or can work behind the scenes.

Try to keep conversations either in person or by phone, or if you email, do not make direct reference to your situation so that allies are not put into awkward positions.

This country needs a determined and educated citizenry. Let us know what you learn. Keep up the fight. Good luck!
Re: Colleges checking immigration status
June 08, 2010 06:28AM
I had a similar situaiton with a friend of mine. He was admitted and then, his second year they pulled his scholarship because he couldn´t prove that he was working on getting his papers... it sucks and it´s so unfair! He has much better grades than me and now he had to drop out of college.
Ernestina Silva
Re: Colleges checking immigration status
June 29, 2010 04:43AM
tell your friend to keep looking for options. There are still a lot of schools that don't ask for SS#. Maybe he can take courses at a local community college to keep going. It will always be better for him to have a degree. Good luck! Ernestina
Tom Noyola
Re: Colleges checking immigration status
June 30, 2010 11:15AM
There are 11 states in the United States that have laws that allow undocumented students to go to college and pay in-state tuition. They are Texas, California, New York, Utah, Delaware, Nebraska, New Mexcio, Oklahoma, Illinois, Washington and Kansas. Generally, these students in these states do well if they have support systems, advocates, academic advisors, faculty intervention, someone on campus like a student organization, faculty or staff they can connect to. These student also generally suffer and face many barriers if there are no support systems in place at the school to allow for collaboration. In my opinion, scholarships should be honored in spite of immigration status, unless scholarships are awarded based on job placement into the community such as for an intern. Then students could not work or recieve the money because they would not be eligible to work in the United States. I hope this helps.
Tom Noyola
Re: Colleges checking immigration status
June 30, 2010 03:20PM
Cautionary note and question: For the eleven states offering in-state tuition, from my research, this applies *only* to students who have graduated from high school in those states. Some even require multiple years of attending high school in that state to count as a resident (ie - so students could not just move for their senior year of high school). Can others "become residents" after high school graduation in another state to then obtain residency?
Re: Colleges checking immigration status
June 30, 2010 06:44PM

You are right. In each of these states, you must have gone to high school in that state for a certain number of years (usually 3-4) in addition to other requirements. Each state has different requirements, which is why it is important for undocumented students who live in any of these states to inform themselves.

Can you re-phrase your question please? Do you mean that when undocumented students graduate, can they apply for residency?

Re: Colleges checking immigration status
July 01, 2010 06:25AM
You clarified perfectly!
Re: Colleges checking immigration status
July 14, 2010 02:47AM
In state tuition is fine for people who live in those states but what happens with students like me who live in Florida? Can we get into college and get Florida Bright Futures grant if we are undocumented?
Re: Colleges checking immigration status
July 15, 2010 01:42PM

You can still apply to college even if you are undocumented,however, you are not able to receive any federal funds.

The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship is a federal grant so you would not be able to apply. One of the requirements is to be a citizen. (

I would suggest that you apply to other scholarships that are open to undocumented students. Please go to our "Resources" page and click on SCHOLARSHIPS AND FINANCIAL AID. Check out all the links, but specifically the last two which are open to undocumented students. I would also suggest that you apply to private scholarships. If they ask for your SSN, leave it blank. Many of the private organizations are willing to provide scholarships regardless of a person's immigratory status.

Good luck!