Many foreign-educated immigrants labor under the misconception that they are ineligible for financial aid, particularly federal student aid, on the grounds that they aren’t U.S. citizens. In fact, that’s not true: permanent residents (“green-card” holders) and several other categories of non-citizens (e.g., legal refugees, asylees, parolees, and victims of human trafficking) are eligible for federal student aid, including grants, loans, and work-study programs.
One helpful source of information is the Federal Student Aid Toolkit maintained by the U.S. Department of Education:
- A section on eligibility offers clear guidelines on the circumstances under which non-U.S. citizens may be eligible for federal financial aid.
- A section that offers clear advice that is tailored to non-citizens on filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (“FAFSA”).
- An on-line tutorial, “7 Easy Steps to the FAFSA,” walks students through the FAFSA process and can be very helpful for perplexed but eligible immigrants.
Permanent residents are also eligible for in-state tuition in the state where they live. They may also apply for state financial aid. The Federal Student Aid website includes a link to state grant agencies for further information on financial aid available in each state.