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Citizenship Status and Eligibility For FAFS or Federal Financial Aid:
by Surajit Sen Sharma

 
Who is an eligible non-citizen?

One of the most important criteria in determining educational opportunities in the United States is a person's citizenship status. While an official U.S. citizen need not worry about this issue, there are many people who aspire to pursue a college or graduate school education but have not received full citizenship. These people are thus are concerned about their eligibility for federal financial aid or other assistance towards a higher education. The citizenship status of the applicant directly affects the chances of finding federal financial aid and this article will help make sense of these issues.

The new citizen: Applicants who have newly acquired U.S. citizenship are fully eligible for federal financial aid. However, citizens who have newly acquired citizenship should immediately contact the Social Security Administration ("SSA") to update their status. Negligence in this respect may cause the SSA to report the applicant as a non-citizen, which may delay processing of an applicant's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which must be submitted by anyone seeking federal financial aid. It should also be noted that once a non-citizen becomes a citizen, he or she does not need to fill in his or her previous Alien Registration Number in Question No. 15 on the FAFSA. Doing so will delay the application process, as the applicant's status will need to be verified with the Department of Homeland Security.

The eligible non-citizen: In order for a non-U.S. Citizen to be eligible for federal financial aid in the United States he or she must be:
  • A U.S. permanent resident holding a Permanent Resident Card i.e., I-551 or I-151, or
  • A conditional permanent resident holding a I-551C, or
  • A non-citizen with an I-94 showing "Refugee," "Asylum granted," "Cuban-Haitian Entrant," or "Parole." In the case of the last option, the "paroled for a minimum of 1-year status" has not expired.
An eligible non-citizen has to fill in the eight or nine-digit Alien Registration Number in Question No.15 of FAFSA 2007-08. If the number is of eight digits, then the first space should be left blank or marked as zero.

The ineligible non-citizen: If an applicant does not fulfill the conditions of either an eligible non-citizen or a citizen, then the applicant is ineligible for federal financial aid for higher education, including cases where the applicant's stay in the U.S. is based on:
  • An I-94 stamped with "Temporary protected status"
  • An I-171, or I-464 declaring "Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Residence"
  • An F-1, F-2, or M-1 student visa
  • A J-1, or J-2 exchange visitor visa
  • A B-1, or B-2 visitor visa
  • A "G" series visa
  • An "H" series or "L" series visa for temporary employment in the U.S.
However, ineligibility for federal financial aid should not discourage a non-citizen from filing the FAFSA. The applicant may still be eligible for state or institutional aid, and a filed FAFSA is essential for both types of aid. In similar cases, and in cases where the applicant does not have a Social Security Number, he or she should immediately contact the school authorities for guidance on financial aid.

Disclaimer: This article is only for informational purposes and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. We do not make any claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of any of the information provided in this article.




 


Article Title : Citizenship Status and Eligibility For FAFS or Federal Financial Aid:
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