The most important variable affecting undocumented students’ ability to persist in pursuing college admissions is the knowledge and investment of a caring adult. By familiarizing yourself with the policies, legal considerations, and best practices discussed in this lesson, you can help undocumented students navigate not only the barriers that all students face when they go to college, but those unique to the undocumented (who may also be first-generation college attenders).
Ways to help include the following:
- Without directly asking, encourage all students to be forthcoming with you and your school counseling staff about their citizenship status.
- Encourage students who you know to be undocumented not to hide or falsify that fact when filling out financial aid or admissions forms.
- Familiarize yourself with the AFSA and FAFSA forms, as well as the Apply Texas application and the college - and university - specific financial aid applications for Texas institutions to which your students commonly apply. Make sure you know which questions undocumented students may struggle to answer, and determine how to advise them. Make sure that students who you know to be undocumented obtain the Affidavit of Intent while filling out the Apply Texas application. This affidavit is key to their eligibility for in-state tuition. Help these students find a notary who can witness them filling out and signing the form. There will often be a small fee involved in obtaining notary services. These students will need one original notarized copy for each college or university to which they apply.
- Make sure students submit printed versions of both the TASFA and FAFSA forms to the financial aid offices of the institutions to which they are applying. Encourage them to follow up and confirm that their financial aid application materials were received. Without a Social Security number, students will not be able to fill out a FAFSA online. Impress upon them that they should NOT send their completed FAFSA form to the federal government.
- Encourage all male students to register with the Selective Service when they turn 18.
- Encourage students and parents of students who you know to be undocumented to pay taxes www.irs.gov/.
- Stay current on the latest developments regarding immigration legislation and future attempts to pass the DREAM Act.
- Identify possible mentors for undocumented students. Involve the students’ parents in the application process as much as possible.
- Build support networks of undocumented students, both in the community and at higher education institutions. Encourage students to join online communities such as DreamActivist and Choose Your Future.