Resources for Undocumented Students

Undocumented students are those individuals who were born outside of the United States and who have not entered the country legally. They are often the sons and daughters of parents brought to the United States at a young age.

Since 1981, K-12 education has been accessible to undocumented students; however, pursuing post-secondary degree options is often difficult. In most states undocumented students cannot access in-state tuition rates and in all states, and they don’t qualify for federal student aid, including loans, grants, scholarships and work-study programs, and many scholarships.

Pay In-State Tuition in Washington

However Washington state is one of the ten states allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition. Passed in 2003, House Bill 1079 requires students to meet all of the following:

  • Live in Washington state for three years immediately before receiving a high school diploma.
  • Graduate from a Washington state high school.
  • Sign the affidavit stating that they will file to adjust their status as soon as possible.
  • Be accepted into a public college in Washington.

Receive State Needs-Based Grants

In addition, the Real Hope Act allows undocumented students in Washington access to the state need grant, passed. To be eligible, students must:

  • Complete the full senior year of high school and obtain a high school diploma or the equivalent;
  • Live in Washington state for at least three years immediately before receiving the diploma;
  • Live continuously in the state of Washington after receiving the diploma and until being admitted to college;
  • Be granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.


The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) has not passed at the federal level. If passed, the DREAM Act would allow undocumented students a path to citizenship if the student:

  • Graduates from a United States high school or receives a GED
  • Is accepted into a institution of higher education
  • Is of good moral character
  • Has arrived in the United States before his/her 16th birthday
  • Lives continuously in the United States for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment.

Meeting the conditions of the DREAM Act would qualify an undocumented student for conditional permanent resident status. Having this status, a student would be allowed to work and obtain most federal and state financial aid for six years. Upon graduation during the six-year period, unrestricted permanent residency status would be granted.

Financial Aid for Undocumented Students

Due to current legislation, undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid. Unless residency paperwork is in process, do not submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the Department of Education.

Some colleges may request that undocumented students submit a paper-based FAFSA for the sole purpose of determining eligibility for scholarships. Students are encouraged to submit this if requested as it may increase potential financial assistance.

Individuals who earn wages in the United States and who are not eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN) are issued an Individualized Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The ITIN is issued regardless of immigration status. The ITIN is for tax purposes only and may not be used as a SSN for the FAFSA.

Find More Information

Information Website
This guide covers the costs of applying to college and the various methods by which students can obtain college application fee waivers. Website
This Washington state website is a resource to help undocumented students understand House Bill 1079 and find support to attend college. Website
Support for low-income Latino youth in the Seattle area. Scholarship resources available. Website
Website for the Washington Dream Act Coalition. Website
Based in California, the Educators for Fair Consideration website has resources available to students and parents which often applies to students outside of California. Website
Website for Immigrant Youth Justice League based in Chicago with DREAM Act information and scholarship resources. Website
While often applicable to Illinois, a private scholarship listing is available showing potential scholarships throughout the country. Website
Hispanic Scholarship Fund website Website
Website for the Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America. Website
Website for Migrant Student Data & Recruitment serving middle and high school youth. Website
Salvadoran American Leadership & Educational Fund website. Website
Hispanic Scholarship Directory from the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute. Website