Part II: Applying for Financial Aid and Scholarships

Get Me To College



The Complete Guide for Paying for College if You’re Not Documented!!!:  Part II: Tips for Applying for Financial Aid and Scholarships!!! 
getmetocollege_rond-01We know that many of you are undocumented. We know that people call you AB540 students. We believe as do millions of people in this country that you have the right to go to college.Carlos Gomez, Class of 2013, Santa Clara University“As undocumented students, our path to higher education is not an easy one, BUT it is not unobtainable. It just has extra curves and obstacles that one must overcome.”

 Financial Aid

 1.      Can I Apply For Federal Financial Aid?

  • No, if you’re not documented yourself you cannot apply for Federal Financial Aid.
  • However, if you are a citizen but one or both of your parents are undocumented, you are eligible for financial aid. When filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), put your parents’ social security number as 000-00-0000.
  • Some private colleges may ask you to fill out the FAFSA and leave your social security number blank or fill in your ITIN number. They want to know your family’s estimated family information.
  • BUT remember, you can apply for Deferred Action, which gets you access to a federal SSN and the ability to work. That is huge.

 2.      What if my parents don’t want to provide any financial information?

  • Please beg them to.
  • Please ask your counselor or a family friend to speak to them.

3.      Can I apply for state aid?

  • This depends on your state. If you live in California, Texas, Maryland, and many other states you now quality for state aid and/or in-state tuition. Check with your college to see what you need to do to qualify for this money. In CA, AB540 students how qualify for state aid-CAL Grants and many school scholarships. So please meet all necessary requirements. 

Finding Scholarships

1.       If I don’t qualify for federal financial aid, where can I get money?

  • Your state may cover it. California now funds undocumented students who apply for aid. Many other states do as well. Remember you must fill out the state’s application.
  • There are many private foundations and colleges that give money to undocumented students.
  • You need to ask your counselor for a list of supportive colleges. If not email us, and we will send you list.
  • Go to AB540 financial aid workshops and learn about scholarships.
  • Go to college fairs, especially those geared towards you, and learn about scholarships and colleges with scholarships.
  • There are some guides:
  1. Here is a great guide for about getting into college and paying for it from USC:  The College and Financial Aid Guide for AB540 Undocumented      Students. 
  2. Many CA universities have info. Here is CSULA’s page.

2.        Where do I find out about scholarships?

There are hundreds of scholarships out there for undocumented students; it is just a matter of taking the initiative and stay on the lookout for them. Here are some help sites where you may begin to look for scholarships for AB 540 students:

  1. FinAid!: Financial Aid and Scholarships for Undocumented Students:
  2. Maldef’s General Scholarships:
  3. Get Ready for College: Resources for Undocumented Students:
  4. Latino College Dollars
  5. Fast Web:
  6. USC’s advice for AB540 students:
  7. Hispanic Scholarship Fund:

Completing Strong Scholarship Applications 

1 .    How do I put together a good financial aid or scholarships application?

  • Your application should have thorough answers to questions.
  • Keep in mind that you will be reviewed by a committee who will most likely be looking at a large variety of applicants.
  • Make sure that every answer you give is honest, humble and it makes you stand out in a pool of competitive applicants.
  • Ask your counselor, teacher or mentor to review your application before submitting it.
  • If the application is through a college, call and see if you can use some of your college essays. Ask if the same readers read college applications and scholarships? If they don’t, you can re-use some essays. If they do, you need to write original pieces.

2.     Do I need a resume?

 3.      Do I need to go on interviews?

  • The answer: YES!
  • Visiting colleges and interviewing will make you stand out.
  • Think about it, hundreds of people may be applying to a college or a scholarship, but some of these committees do not know you as a person and the only information they get from you is your application.
  • Interviews allow these committees to get to know you at a personal level and remember you once you apply to college.
  • Likewise they show that you actually care and have taken the time to meet them.
  • Go prepared to share stories about your life’s goals and how education will help fulfill them.

 4.     Why would I need a portfolio?

  • A portfolio is an extension of your resume.
  • In a portfolio you can include letters of recommendation that you have received from teachers, community members or peers.
  • These portfolios also provide additional information that will allow reviewers of your application to match you and point you out in a competitive pool of applicants.
  • Private funders may want to see these portfolios.
  • If your parents work for wealthy individuals, consider showing them your portfolio.