Who Are Undocumented Students?

Undocumented students are quite literally students without the legal documents to be a resident in a country. There are at least 1.2 million undocumented students in America. Some students may have been given a DACA status (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) – these are classed as undocumented too. DACA allows students under the age of 16yrs old to receive a 2 year work-permit that can be renewed.

Undocumented students tend to be students who have immigrated to a country, and perhaps their visa has expired. They could be in the country, with or without their parents. Their residency in the country could be uncertain, if it hasn’t been determined yet whether they’re able to remain in the country.

It can seem really difficult for undocumented students to get the education they desire due to their situation, they may not be able to afford education, or be unsure of their residency status; some may believe it’s against the law for them to attend College or University, but this is not the case.

Some professions may be more difficult for undocumented students to enter, such as nursing and teaching, due to the background checks, usual ID required to do this and sometimes a work-experience component of the course. Undocumented Students aren’t able to get federal financial aid and at most Universities and Colleges their fees are comparable to international students.

If students aren’t getting a valuable education though they’re not enhancing their skills/qualifications, and because they’re undocumented immigrants, they’re also often unable to work; however some laws, such as DACA mentioned above, as well as HB60, Dream Act, FERPA and ITIN have been put in place in America to encourage all people regardless of their residency status to be productive citizens.

Top Scholarships For Undocumented StudentsOften undocumented students are unlikely to make themselves widely known, because they don’t want to be deported to their home country. Many countries ensure that students, regardless of their immigration status are given primary and secondary school level education, but this doesn’t always extend to Higher Education.

In America less than 10% of undocumented High School students go on to study at University. There are however, scholarships available for undocumented students to attend Colleges and Universities. Please check out the information below:

Top Scholarships for Undocumented Students

#1. The 10,000 Degrees Scholarships

There are many different types of scholarship that they offer: undergraduate, SFPD Appreciation, teaching, child care assistance, law school, new leader, professional and technical training. It is necessary to complete the application online and by the deadline.

The scholarship is awarded to a first generation student (immigrant students who have relocated to a new country) who can demonstrate that they’re in need of financial support due to having a low income. The purpose of the scholarship is to create opportunities for undocumented students.

The student needs to be enrolled at a University and studying full-time. The scholarship tends to be awarded to students from Sonoma County, Marin and a few from the greater Bay Area of California. The scholarship has been created by funding from 22 separate donors, many of them are families. It’s not stated how much the scholarship is for.

For more information, click here!

#2. Dream Summer

They offer a national internship scheme to encourage students to become future leaders for social movements, and to create a diverse approach to immigrant communities. This involves 10 weeks of work in an organization, working on gender and race issues, and matters connected to mass incarceration, deportations, and equal access to healthcare. Upon completing the 10 weeks, students receive $5,000.

For more information, click here!

#3. OCIYU Scholarship

OCIYU stands for the Orange County Immigrant Youth, and it offers a scholarship specifically for undocumented students all across America so that students can live away from exploitation and persecution. The scholarships tend to be for $250 – $500 for College or University students. In order to apply students need to sign up to the mailing list, and once they’ve done that they’ll receive and email as to when they can complete an application.

For more information, click here!

#4. The Davis- Putter Scholarship Fund

This scholarship is intended for students who are part of a progressive movement to bring about equality socially and economically. This means students who may have been involved in things like, fighting against sexism, racism, and homophobia in the United States, with a desire to promote peace and freedom, and to continue doing so in America.

The fund encourages its students to be activists and resist violence and brutality; it’s against sweatshops; it’s for women’s liberation and a democratic society. The largest amount of grant that a student would receive would be $10,000. In order to apply students have to provide a transcript of previous grades, a 1,000 word personal statement describing their involvement in progressive social activity, and how studying would help with their future goals in this area.

Two letters of recommendation are also required, proof of a year’s living expenses plus a Student Aid Report (SAR) and a photograph. Many of the previous recipients of grants have been undocumented students.

For more information, click here!

#5. Ascend Educational Fund

They give scholarships that vary in amount from $2,500 right up to $20,000 to immigrant students who have graduated from a New York high school and wish to attend full time further or higher education. Successful scholarship students will show good qualities of being hard-working, possessing leadership skills, and being community-minded. In order to apply, students need to complete an application form, include a transcript of their high school grades, a copy of a SAT or ACT exam, complete two essays and have two references.

For more information, click here!


This scholarship stands for Revolutionizing Asian American Immigrant Stories on the East Coast. It’s a one-off $500 scholarship for Asian undocumented students. Five scholarships are given out each spring time, according to the separate categories of: Leadership, Professional Development, Arts and Culture, Serving the Community and Higher Education. The funds for the scholarship have come from Sahra Vang Nguyen and the New York Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. RAISE’s focus is on creating humane immigration policies and due to lack of government funding, this is why the scholarship was created so that Asian immigrants lacking financial assistance can improve themselves and the community they live in. In order to apply candidates need to show they have a financial need, and for the HE and Leadership scholarships, students need to show they’re enrolled or about to start College. An application form needs to be completed that includes personal information, finances, some short essays (approx. 6 questions requiring 1-2 paragraphs), a letter of support, a CV, a requirement to follow RAISE on social media: Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook.

For more information, click here!

#7. NYU Undocumented Students

NYU do offer scholarships for undocumented students and supports the Dream Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors). The scholarships are for undocumented students (male and female) from New York to attend NYU; the scholarship offered is for the same amount as what is offered to any other US Student. Students wanting to apply, must complete a CSS/Financial Aid profile and if applicable, a CSS Noncustodial profile. Students are able to use ‘prior prior year’ tax data, so they can use information they’ve submitted for taxes from two years earlier.

An Undocumented Student Financial Aid Application also needs to be completed. Students who are chosen for the scholarship will have had their finances assessed, and their academic abilities taken into consideration. NYU are keen to stress that their scholarship may not cover the entire cost of attending University, and because Undocumented Students aren’t able to get federal financial aid, careful thought needs to be given to whether to also take out a private educational loan.

For more information, click here!

#8. CUNY Becas Scholarship

They offer scholarships of $4500 to $6030 for tuition fees only and these are to CUNY undergraduate and graduate students who perform well academically, have a low income and are able to demonstrate they’ll work towards improving lives in the Mexican community. CUNY has a specific Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute. Students in receipt of a scholarship will do 200 hours internship in a non-profit establishment affiliated to CUNY. The scholarships are funded by the Mexican government, the Juntos Podemos Foundation, APEM and private donors, including Jaime Lucero. In order to apply, a form needs to be completed, there needs to be a copy of the High School transcript, two essays ; the first being a personal statement the second justification for why you should receive financial help; and final a letter of recommendation.

For more information, click here!

#9. Golden Door Scholars

Golden Door Scholars focuses on finding scholarships for Undocumented students, DACA students and people with TPS (Temporary Protected Status) to change their lives for the better. Students can be current or recent high school graduates. Golden Door scholarships are for the entire United States, but with a focus on those states that have an out-of-state tuition fee. Some of the 15 partner Universities that scholarships have been provided for include those on the East Coast of America: Emory University, Davidson College and Wake Forest University.

If a student has graduated from high school and their choice of University requires undocumented students to pay the same fees as an international student, ie ‘out-of-state’ fees, then this is the type of person that Golden Door Scholars would select for a scholarship, mostly because only 5-10% of undocumented students go on to Higher Education.

The scholarship offered is solely for undergraduate degrees. Students are required to achieve a 3.0 GPA every semester. Types of people selected for the scholarship will have good grades, a desire for success and encourages others too; there may be evidence of community involvement, especially in leadership roles.

For more information, click here!

#10. Becas Univision

They give away 34 scholarships per year, worth $5,000 usually to high school students with a GPA of 3.0, of Hispanic heritage, the first generation in their family to attend college, in financial need; so that they can progress onto a higher level qualification.

For more information, click here!

These are all the scholarships we have found so far, we will continue updating this list of scholarships for undocumented students when new ones available. Please support us by sharing this page to your friends.