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Resources for Undocumented Students and MN Dream Act


 

June 2020 update: In the decision regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that the way in which the administration rescinded the DACA program in 2017 was unlawful. Although the court sided with DACA recipients, it did say that the administration has the authority to end the program if they pursue it in the correct way. The decision means that the attempt to end DACA was invalid. This win for DACA youth and their families does not create a pathway to citizenship- only legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President can do that. However, this win does restore the DACA program completely, and both initial and renewal applications will now be accepted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). All eligible individuals should consult with a legal service provider for information about applying for DACA for the first time, renewing their existing DACA, and/or getting screened for eligibility for other, more permanent immigration options.

Just as before the SCOTUS decision, the Minnesota Dream Act remains intact. This includes access to the Minnesota State Grant, Minnesota Childcare Grant, Teacher Candidate Grant, Occupational Grant, Dual-Training Grant, Minnesota SELF Loan, in-state tuition rates and privately funded financial aid through public colleges and universities. Individuals are not required to have DACA in order to apply for and receive the benefits of the Minnesota Dream Act. One additional benefit of the Minnesota Dream Act is access to the Minnesota State Work Study program; for this specific program, students are required to document eligibility to work in the United States. DACA recipients may continue to utilize Minnesota Work Study until their work authorization expires.

Resources for informational purposes and help with legal services:


On August 14, 2019, the Trump administration published an administrative rule change that aims to limit the number of people allowed to obtain certain immigration benefits in the United States based on their health, age, use of certain public benefits, English proficiency, and financial resources. Several lawsuits stopped the rule from going into effect, but on January 27, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the new rule to take effect while lawsuits challenging the rule are going through the courts. The administration announced that they will begin applying the rule on February 24, 2020.

NEW January 2020: Understanding the Expanded Federal "Public Charge Rule"


In May 2013, the MN Dream Act (also known as the Prosperity Act) was passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Dayton. Undocumented students meeting the criteria in the MN Dream Act are now eligible for in-state tuition rates, privately funded financial aid administered by Minnesota public colleges and universities and can apply for state financial aid. Minnesota students granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) may also be eligible for these benefits. Learn more about the MN Dream Act and how to apply for these benefits.

Federal Grants

To apply for a federal grant, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which requires the student's social security number. To qualify for a federal grant, you must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or an eligible non-citizen. You are an eligible non-citizen if you:

  • are a U.S. permanent resident with a Card (I-551)
  • are a conditional permanent resident with an I-551C card
  • have an Arrival Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security with any of the following designations: a refugee, asylum granted, a parolee, a Cuban-Haitian entrant, a victim of human trafficking or a holder of T-Visa.

If you are a citizen or eligible non-citizen, you can qualify for federal grants even if your parents are undocumented. When you complete the FAFSA, you can enter all zeros for your parents' social security numbers.

State Grants

Undocumented students are eligible to apply for a MN State Grant and other state financial aid programs if they were granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) prior to establishing state residency or if they meet all the requirements for the MN Dream Act. Otherwise, students must be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens to apply for a MN State Grant using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Scholarships

Some colleges and universities may have scholarships available to students regardless of immigration status. It's important to check with the campus that interests you to learn more about possible (school-specific) scholarship opportunities. Many financial aid counselors are aware of and sensitive to your situation and will try to assist you as best they can.

Several private organizations maintain online lists of scholarships. Here is a partial list of scholarships, both national and based in Minnesota, for which undocumented students may be eligible.

Tuition Policies

Students meeting MN Dream Act criteria are eligible for in-state tuition rates at Minnesota public colleges and universities. Minnesota students granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) may also be eligible for in-state tuition rates. Undocumented students attending the University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and the Twin Cities can apply for in-state tuition rates by using the same application used to apply for state financial aid under the MN Dream Act. Otherwise, undocumented students attending other public colleges and universities should apply directly with the campus for in-state tuition rates.

Even if you do not qualify for the MN Dream Act, some public colleges and universities in Minnesota offer in-state tuition to all of their students, regardless of immigration status or state of residence. The following public institutions charge the in-state tuition rate to all students:

  • Alexandria Technical College: Alexandria
  • Anoka-Ramsey Community College: Cambridge and Coon Rapids
  • Anoka Technical College: Anoka
  • Bemidji State University: Bemidji
  • Central Lakes College: Brainerd and Staples
  • Century College: White Bear Lake
  • Dakota County Technical College: Rosemount
  • Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College
  • Hennepin Technical College: Brooklyn Park and Eden Prairie
  • Inver Hills Community College: Inver Grove Heights
  • Minneapolis Community and Technical College: Minneapolis
  • Minnesota State College-Southeast: Red Wing and Winona
  • Minnesota State Community and Technical College: Fergus Falls, Moorhead, Wadena and Detroit Lakes
  • Minnesota West College: Jackson, Granite Falls, Worthington, Pipestone, Canby
  • Normandale Community College: Bloomington
  • North Hennepin Community College: Brooklyn Park
  • Northland College: Thief River Falls and East Grand Forks
  • Northwest Technical College: Bemidji
  • Ridgewater College: Willmar and Hutchinson
  • Riverland College: Austin and Albert Lea
  • Rochester Community and Technical College: Rochester
  • St. Cloud Technical College: St. Cloud
  • Saint Paul College: St. Paul
  • South Central College: Mankato and Faribault
  • Southwest Minnesota State University: Marshall
  • University of Minnesota, Crookston: Crookston

Student Loans

Federal student loans, such as the Stafford Direct Loan program, are not available to undocumented students. Minnesota offers a loan program called the SELF Loan Program, which is available to students regardless of immigration status. A separate application is used to apply for the SELF Loan, available through the college's financial aid office. A qualified borrower who is an undocumented student must have a credit-worthy cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. For more information on the SELF Loan Program, visit www.selfloan.state.mn.us.