Citizenship Status and the FAFSA
A student’s citizenship status affects whether he or she is eligible for federal student aid. Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or from a small set of eligible noncitizens, are eligible for federal and state student aid, even if the student’s parents are undocumented or foreign citizens.
A database match with the Social Security Administration (SSA) will confirm a student’s status as a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. A database match with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will confirm a student’s status as an eligible noncitizen.
Eligible noncitizens include students who are residents of certain U.S. territories, including:
- The Republic of Palau (PW)
- The Republic of the Marshall Islands (MH)
- The Federated States of Micronesia (FM)
Eligible noncitizens include students who are Canadian-born Native Americans under the terms of the Jay Treaty.
Eligible noncitizens include students who have a status as a refuge, asylum granted, parolee, T visa holder, Cuban-Haitian Entrant, victim of human trafficking or Battered Immigrants-Qualified Aliens and their children.
Students who are eligible noncitizens should provide their eight or nine-digit Alien Registration Number (ARN) on the FAFSA. If a student has an eight-digit ARN, they should prefix a zero before the ARN.
If a recently naturalized citizen is asked to provide a copy of their Certificate of Naturalization, it is legal to photocopy these documents for financial aid purposes, despite the warning against copying the documents.
Naturalized citizens should update their citizenship status with the Social Security Administration (SSA), so that their citizenship status will be associated with their Social Security Number. Otherwise, it could cause a database mismatch when the FAFSA tries to confirm citizenship status with the SSA.
International students who are in the U.S. on an F-1 or F-2 student visa, a J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor visa, or a G series visa are not eligible for federal student aid and should not file the FAFSA. Likewise, international students with the following visas are not eligible for federal student aid: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, TN, TD, U, V, TROV and NATO.
If a college asks them to file the FAFSA anyway, they should select “No, I am not a citizen or eligible noncitizen” on the FAFSA.
T and U visa holders are eligible for California state student aid and must file a California Dream Act Application to apply.
U visa holders are generally not eligible for federal student aid. However, a U visa holder may obtain a green card and become a permanent resident three years after the date of admission on their U visa. They may also be able to qualify if they received the U visa because of their status as a victim of domestic violence under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA)..
Students who have a temporary resident card, temporary protected status or who have been approved to apply for permanent residence are not considered permanent residents (green card holders) and are not eligible for federal or state student aid.