College Admissions: Where There’s Help for Undocumented Students
Monday, June 18, 2012
Federal Aid is Not an Option
First, there are four sources of college funding: federal, state, college-based and private scholarships. Federal aid (Stafford Loans, Pell Grants, Perkins, etc.) is only open to U.S. citizens and green card holders. It is off limits to all other foreign nationals, documented or undocumented. At the state level, each state sets its own rules.
In-State Tuition Breaks Growing
12 states, including Connecticut, Texas, California, Washington and Rhode Island, presently allow undocumented students who graduate from high school in their state to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities. So, Silvia could have opted to apply to URI or RIC and received in-state tuition. However in the state of Rhode Island where Silvia applied, Providence College and Roger Williams University are private colleges. As such, they do not offer in-state tuition rates to anyone, and they are not obligated to offer financial aid to foreign nationals. Admirably, Roger Williams did offer Silvia money, just not enough to make the college affordable for her family.
700+ Colleges Offer Aid to Foreign Students
The next source of aid that is most often overlooked by undocumented students is given out by private colleges and universities. This is the biggest pool of money for these high school grads scrambling to find funding for college. More than 700 colleges in the U.S. offer aid to foreign nationals (which is what undocumented students are). Yale, Wesleyan (CT) and Skidmore averaged more than $50,000 per year/per student in aid to internationals who required funding. Not far behind were Gettysburg, Trinity (CT), Amherst, U. Chicago, Williams, Vassar and Colby—all averaging more than $45,000 per year/per student. Mount Holyoke actually awarded more than $13 million dollars last year to women from other countries—the most of any college in the country. The Association for Oversees College Admission Counseling compiles information each year on colleges that offer aid to foreign students and average awards at each school. To view information on these colleges, go to http://infousa.state.gov/
Finally, there are also private scholarship sources open to foreign students, but these can be harder to locate. In Rhode Island, students should check with the Rhode Island Foundation, and nationally families can search for private scholarships on Fastweb or check with their high school guidance office.
Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic college counseling, SAT prep and athletic recruiting services www.collegeadvisorsonline.com.
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