DACA Student Loan
Every year, thousands of students with DACA status graduate from high school and are faced with the daunting task of paying for college. For most, it seems like a financial impossibility to get a student loan. Most undocumented students don't even apply in the first place because they think it'll just be a waste of their time.
They turn to their families for financial assistance – which can be difficult considering immigrants aren't eligible for federal student aid, and many states offer very little in terms of state-based scholarships specifically for undocumented students.
The good news is that doesn't have to be the case. There is hope for DACA students yet. There are private lenders that offer DACA student loans, which could go a long way towards paying for college.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is a system of protection from deportation provided by the U.S. government to illegal immigrant children who have made their life in America and never had any say about it. These people typically entered the States when they were minors without choice in the matter at the time. They eventually end up building a life here and so many are worried about where they'll go if DACA is taken away from them.
President Obama's executive order allows DACA recipients to remain in the U.S., being granted a work permit, driver's license, and social security card. These "Dreamers" are so called because they were brought to America by their parents following the American Dream of building a life through dedication and hard work for their children.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program gave Dreamers a form of protection and peace of mind, but it came with its challenges as well. One such challenge is securing financing from traditional banks, who remain wary about lending to DACA recipients because they may be considered “high-risk” clients. Despite these obstacles, there are still lenders who offer loans to DACA applicants in need of financial support for their education.
Student Loans for DACA Recipients
As a DACA student, it is difficult to get access to federal student loans, but there are many other options you can take advantage of. Private scholarships and in-state tuition could be the perfect way for you to pay for your education.
DACA recipients are not eligible for federal student loans, but they have other options for aid such as DACA student loans.
Though DACA recipients can't apply for federal financial aid, the DREAM act allows them to study in U.S. colleges with their own money as long as they're a resident of the country at least five years before applying and meet certain requirements such as having graduated from high school or obtained a GED certificate. DACA students also have access to alternative college funding such as private bank loans, scholarships, fellowships funded by charitable organizations and other financial aid.
How undocumented students can apply for college
Undocumented students in Alabama and South Carolina are barred from attending public colleges; however, they are permitted in every other state.
College application season is one of the most stressful times of year for any student, let alone a DACA recipient. And while you're making sure that your SAT scores and GPA are up to par you should also be thinking about what kind of college experience you're looking for. If you're undocumented and want to consider going to school in the U.S., make sure to reach out to any schools you're considering before filling out applications just so they can let you know if there are any special rules or considerations for applying as an undocumented student. Sometimes, this could mean being treated like an international student which would affect how much financial aid is offered in some cases. It's also advisable to speak to the school's financial aid office for detailed information on the financial aid options available to you.
Federal student loans and aid for DACA students
For undocumented immigrants, the most common way to pay for college is through private student loans. This can be problematic because these borrowers have no access to federal aid or assistance programs like deferment.
For undocumented immigrants who are looking to send their children off to a university or four-year degree program, they may have no choice other than private student loans to fund the journey. Private student loans are more difficult to obtain when compared to federal education loans because there are additional credit and income qualification requirements. Without meeting these requirements, DACA recipients cannot qualify for private funds that would help pay for school expenses such as tuition and housing costs.
If you're a DACA recipient, don't forget to contact your school's financial aid office to find out if there are any programs available that might help you pay for school. As we all know, DACA recipients don't qualify for federal student loans but your school or even the state might ask you to fill out the FAFSA form in order to apply for assistance from them.
Private student loans for DACA students
Private DACA student loans could be the answer to your financial worries. You might not qualify for any scholarships, but you can still find a way to gather enough money to pay for school.
Going through private student loans is much riskier than going through federal aid programs such as Pell Grants or Perkins Loans because they're typically offered at higher interest rates and lack consumer protections like bankruptcy and cancellation provisions that come with government-issued student loans. Private lenders also generally require credit scores which international students don't always have access to due to their lack of U.S. citizenship or documented residency status (DACA). Depending on the lender's process, you might be able to apply either as a DACA recipient or as an international student. And you may be able to find a loan without needing a cosigner.
You might need to provide a variety of documents, such as paperwork from ICE.
If you're looking to take out a private college loan and are unsure of where to start, be sure to explore as many lenders as possible. This will allow you to find the right type of loan for your specific situation. This is where the loan comparison tool on our site is invaluable, as it shows you only the lenders who have a loan option for you at your chosen school.
Private scholarships are a great way to help pay for your education. DACA recipients can also apply for scholarships specifically designed for them, too.
Visit IEFA.org for more information on scholarship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.
State financial assistance for DACA students
In some states, DACA recipients can apply for state financial aid programs. There are also a few states that offer a special DACA scholarship program. And if you don't qualify for the financial aid, you may still be able to get in-state tuition rates.
DACA Students and Loans
As we've discussed, DACA students are not eligible for federal aid for school, but many states and some private lenders offer options for these students.
While it is true that they cannot get loans from the FAFSA fund or Pell Grants to attend college, there are a number of private lenders who offer DACA students the opportunity for funding their education with a loan, as well as individual colleges which can accept their application and determine if they qualify for any financial aid or tuition assistance programs offered by that institution. This is just another way to help them make it through university without having to deal with such economic stressors.
California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington all offer some form of state financial aid to DACA students. Many public universities offer in-state tuition benefits to DACA students who can prove residence and have graduated from a high school in that state.
Interest rates will vary depending on the lender and market conditions. Find the most up to date rates and check your ability now: Find My Loan.