Pursuing Education Guide for Undocumented Students

Pursuing Education Guide for Undocumented Students

The Law in the State of Illinois

An undocumented student refers to students who were born outside the United States, but have lived in the country for a significant portion of their lives, and who reside here with no documentation stating U.S. citizenship or legal residency.   

Illinois Community Colleges and Universities

All public community colleges and universities in the state of Illinois allow undocumented Illinois students to pay in-state tuition rates through Illinois Public Act 093-0007; however, this does not guarantee admission to a state community college or university. Students must meet admissions requirements and must contact the community college and/or the university directly.

Public Universities in the State of Illinois that allow undocumented Illinois students to pay in-state tuition rates include but are not limited to:

University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University, Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, and Western Illinois University

For more information about Public Act 093-0007, please visit: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation//publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=093-0007&GA=093

Financing Your Education


  • Undocumented students are not eligible to apply for state and federal financial aid, but may be eligible for many private scholarships
  • Visit www.icirr.org/education, www.maldef.org, or http://latinospro.org/ for a database of private scholarships available to undocumented students living in Illinois
  • Visit www.hsf.net/scholarship for an additional scholarship available to DACA students
  • Begin looking for scholarships as early as possible. Work with your high school guidance counselor or any other school personnel that you trust
  • Contact individual groups or colleges/universities about resources that may be available. Most colleges have a community foundation and award scholarships for currently enrolled students
Government Financial Aid
  • The federal government uses the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to compute need
  • If a student is a U.S. Citizen, but one or more parents are undocumented, the student maybe eligible for federal aid. When filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the undocumented parent’s social security number must be filled out as 000-00-0000.
  • If you are in the U.S. on a F1 or F2 student visa, or a J1 or J2 exchange visitor visa or a G series visa you are not eligible
  • Undocumented students cannot receive financial aid; you must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen with a valid alien number
  • For specific questions and answers related to state aid please visit  https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/eligibility/non-us-citizens
Scholarship Do’s and Don’ts
  • Check eligibility requirements for the scholarships you are interested in applying for
  • If the scholarship asks if you have applied for financial aid, it is best to indicate no followed by a general statement that you are ineligible to apply for aid
  • If an application asks for your SS# and you do not have one yet, leave that space blank
  • Contact the scholarship provider for application details, deadlines, and clarifications
  • Provide accurate information. Providing false information or providing a false SS# is a Federal offense
  • Scholarship scams exist. Do not pay any fees to apply for scholarships
Obtaining State licenses/Certifications

Professions that require state licensing or certification require background checks, a social security number and state examinations. If you are undocumented it may be difficult to pursue any type of state licensing or certification. Some of the professions that require a state license or certificate are in health care, education, and government. Potential friendly careers include, business ownership, hotel management, restaurants, journalism, computers, manual labor, trade fields, radio & tv broadcasting, administrative positions, and cash based businesses.

Staying Informed

As an undocumented student it is important that you know your rights and stay informed about immigration policy. Below you will find some great resources.    

Additional Supporting Organizations


The Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

On June 15, 2012, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would not deport certain DREAM Act-eligible non-citizen youth. These youth will be given temporary relief called “deferred action.” Deferred action, valid for two years and eligible for renewal, allows individuals who qualify and are approved to temporarily and lawfully stay in the United States. Individuals who received deferred action may apply for and may obtain employment authorization. This program is referred to as DACA.

For more information on the policy, you can also visit U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or Department of Homeland Security (DHS) websites (www.dhs.gov/deferred-action). Individuals can also call USCIS hotline at 1-800-375-5283.

**If you have applied and received your social security card for work purposes under deferred action, you cannot use this social security number to apply for FAFSA**


The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is still available and the government is still accepting and approving DACA initial and renewal applications. However, the program could be terminated at any time.

Additional information can be obtained here: https://www.ilrc.org/areas-of-expertise


For those that have not yet applied for DACA, use caution and seek legal counsel to determine if this is something you should consider.

Seeking Legal Counsel

  • Begin the process of legalizing your status by seeking legal advice from an immigration attorney
  • A list of non-profit organizations that provide free or low-cost immigration legal services can be obtained here: www.immigrationadvocates.org/nonprofit/legaldirectory
Revised on May 11, 2017