DACA, In-State Tuition & Financial Aid: FAQ
Many students with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) would like to attend university or college after graduating from high school. The changes in Oregon’s tuition rules and the complexity of financial aid have caused a lot of questions and confusion for immigrant youth. This public advisory was prepared by Immigrant Law Group PC to describe how DACA-grantees can obtain in-state tuition and access to some financial aid resources.
What is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program? Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also called DACA, is a program that provides temporary lawful presence to immigrant youth. Technically, deferred action is the exercise of prosecutorial discretion by the Secretary of Homeland Security to formally recognize that a particular noncitizen is present in the United States and to not pursue enforcement, such as removal, of the noncitizen.
For a complete discussion about DACA, please refer to our advisory Deferred Action and Oregon’s Driver License Law (Dec. 18, 2012), available at: http://www.ilgrp.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/OrDMV-DACA-Memo-Public2.pdf
Are students with DACA eligible to attend an Oregon university? Yes. All Oregon universities accept students with deferred action.
Are students with DACA eligible for in-state tuition at an Oregon university? Yes. Beginning July 3, 2013, Oregon universities offered in-state tuition to most students who graduated from an Oregon high school. This is called tuition equity. It is important to know that DACA is not a requirement for in-state tuition. In-state tuition is available to DACA and non-DACA students.
A student will find that the enrollment process and access to other benefits at a university is easier with DACA than without DACA because of the ability to obtain a Social Security Number and an Oregon Drivers License. The in-state tuition rate is valid for only 5 years after the date of initial enrollment and is available only to students who attended Oregon public schools. There are other requirements to obtain in-state tuition. Please refer to our public advisory, What does Tuition Equity mean for Oregon students? (Apr. 24, 2013), available at: http://www.ilgrp.com/understanding-oregon-tuition-equity-faq/
Oregon community colleges, such as Portland Community College, charge a resident rate for any student living within their geographic area without regard to immigration status.
What is financial aid? Financial aid is funding that helps individual students afford the cost of attending college or university. There are 4 kinds of financial aid: scholarships, grants, work-study and student loans.
Is a DACA student eligible for a scholarship? Yes. Scholarships are privately funded financial aid. Some scholarships are based on merits, while others are based on need, student-specific or career-specific. Most DACA students are eligible for scholarships because they are not federally funded. Each scholarship has its own criteria. There are scholarships available for undocumented students and DACA recipients through non-profit institutions, individuals, and others. Some colleges and universities offer institutional scholarships and grants as well. Look first for scholarships that do not require citizenship or legal permanent residency. Though some scholarships require an applicant to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine overall financial aid eligibility before making a decision on the scholarship, it is important to remember that a DACA grantee is not eligible for federal financial aid. The following website is a good resource for scholarships available for DACA students: http://www.dreamactivist.org/faq/education/scholarships/
Is a DACA student an “eligible non-citizen” on the FAFSA form? No. Unfortunately, DACA is not an “eligible non-citizen” status.
Is a DACA student eligible for work-study? No. DACA grantees are not eligible for federal financial aid or other federal programs.
Is a DACA student eligible for grants? No. Though there might be exceptions, a DACA student is not eligible for any grants at the federal level such as federal Pell grants. DACA students cannot legally receive any federally funded grants.
Is a DACA student eligible for student loans? Yes and no. Although DACA students are not eligible for federal loans, private loan providers are less stringent in their application criteria and may be willing to provide loans to DACA students. The DACA student may need a co-signer who is a resident to be eligible for private loans.
What are my other options? Make change! Organize and push for legislative change to allow for federal and state financial aid options or DACA recipients and undocumented students!
What are other resources for DACA students? These websites contain detailed information for DACA students:
- Immigrant Law Group PC: www.ilgrp.com (under the DACA Campaign tab)
- Oregon GEAR UP – Undocumented Students in Oregon: http://gearup.ous.edu/sites/default/files/Publications/UndocumentedStudentsinOregon.pdf
- Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund: http://www.maldef.org/assets/pdf/2012-2013_MALDEF_Scholarship_List.pdf