Resources for Undocumented Students and Higher Education

This article was originally posted to the Generation Progress website.

By Christian L. Smith and Anthony Solis-Cruz | Posted JULY 25, 2017, 12:23 PM

Below, we’ve highlighted a few scholarships for both undergraduate and graduate programs for which undocumented students are eligible. Many other organizations have resources–whether that be their own scholarship lists, info on how to navigate financial aid, or general tips and recommendations. We’ve included an aggregation of those resources at the end of this post. If you have questions, or simply a resource to add, please contact Christian Smith at For the previous version of this page, please click here.

Highlighted Undergraduate Scholarships and Programs


National Scholarship

Opens: November 1, 2017

Closes: March 1, 2018

Opportunity Scholarship

Opens: November 1, 2017

Closes: January 23, 2018

Description: TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college access and success program for DREAMersTheDream.US scholarships are for highly motivated DREAMers who want nothing more than to get a college education, but are unable to afford the cost due to limited or no access to federal aid, limited access to state aid, and who, in certain states, face paying out-of-state tuition.

The National Scholarship is for high school or community college graduates. The Opportunity Scholarship is for students who live in targeted, locked-out states where they cannot get in-state tuition. Your eligibility for both is based upon where you live.

Union Plus Scholarship (2018)

Opens: June, 2017

Closes:  January 31, 2018

Description: Since 1991, the Union Plus Scholarship Program has awarded more than $4 million to students of working families who want to begin or continue their post-secondary education.

The Union Plus Scholarship Program is offered through the Union Plus Education Foundation, supported in part by contributions from the provider of the Union Plus Credit Card. (You do not need to be a Union Plus Credit Card holder to apply for this scholarship.)

Current and retired members of participating unions, their spouses and their dependent children (as defined by IRS regulations). At least one year of continuous union membership by the applicant, applicant’s spouse or parent (if applicant is a dependent). The one year membership minimum must be satisfied by May 31, 2017

Hispanic Scholarship Fund Program 

2018 – 2019 Scholarship deadline: March 30, 2018

Description: The HSF Scholarship is designed to assist students of Hispanic heritage obtain a college degree. Scholarships are available, on a competitive basis, to high school seniors, undergraduate students (all years), community college students transferring to four year universities, and graduate students.

Migrant Farmworker Baccalaureate Scholarship    

2017 deadline: passed

2018 deadline: July 1

Description: The purpose of this scholarship is to provide financial support to a deserving student with a history of migrating for employment in agriculture who has successfully completed one year of college. This support will cover expenses beyond what the youth is entitled to in federal/state and other scholarship assistance. This scholarship is designed to assist the youth in obtaining a baccalaureate degree without being encumbered with substantial debt. This scholarship is made available through a generous endowment from an anonymous, concerned individual for the education of children of migrant farmworkers.

The Science Ambassador Scholarship

Opens: Fall 2017

Closes: TBA

Description: The scholarship funded by the popular card game “Cards Against Humanity,” awards up to four years of tuition to a woman seeking a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM). To all women going or in undergrad: if science gets you fired up and you are willing to send in a video where you talk about a science topic that moves you, this is definitely for you!

The Point Foundation

Opens: November 1

Closes: January 30

Description: The point foundation is the largest scholarship-granting (in higher ed) organization for LGBTQ+ students. This scholarship is for those involved in the LGBTQ+ community. Factors considered to receive the scholarship include: leadership, academic achievement, financial need, personal goals AND involvement in the LGBTQ+ community. The foundation also pays close attention to students who have lost the support of their families/communities due to their sexual orientation. Students are matched with mentors and attend leadership development programs. The applicants also pledge to give back to the LGBTQ+ community by completing a community service project each year.

Highlighted Graduate Fellowships and Programs

McNair Scholars Program Funding Guide/Opportunities (Note that not every opportunity is available to undocumented students)

Description: The McNair Scholars Program serves first-gen, underrepresented students in order to help prepare them for doctoral studies. This organization seeks to increase the amount of graduate degrees for underrepresented students.

UCLA’s Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship

Description: This four-year fellowship program, funded by the University of California Office of the President, the UCLA Graduate Division, and the home department, supports a limited number of students who are entering PhD programs and are interested in a career in college or university teaching and research. The fellowship currently provides a stipend of $25,000 plus tuition and, for the first year only, nonresident supplemental tuition if necessary. Professional degree supplemental tuition, if the awardee is enrolled in a professional degree program, is not covered. Fellows may not be employed during the first year of this fellowship. During the student’s fourth year, the Graduate Division provides a second year of support at the same funding level. The student’s department is obligated to provide two or more years of equivalent support. Applicants must be nominated by their department/school. Students pursuing MD, DDS, or JD degrees are not eligible for this program.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or undocumented students who qualify for nonresident supplemental tuition exemptions under AB 540 (eligibility for undocumented AB540 students is effective January 1, 2013). Individuals from cultural, racial, linguistic, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds that are currently underrepresented in graduate education are especially encouraged to participate in the program.

UCLA’s Graduate Opportunity Fellowship Program (GOFP)

Description: This one-year fellowship program provides recipients with a $20,000 stipend plus tuition (and nonresident supplemental tuition if necessary). Professional degree supplemental tuition, if the awardee is enrolled in a professional degree program, is not covered. Fellows may not be employed during the tenure of this fellowship. The program supports a limited number of entering students pursuing either terminal or professional master’s degrees. Students pursuing doctoral degrees (e.g., PhD, MD, DDS, etc.)  are not eligible for funding. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or undocumented students who qualify for nonresident supplemental tuition exemptions under AB 540 (eligibility for undocumented AB540 students is effective January 1, 2013). Individuals from cultural, racial, linguistic, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds that are currently underrepresented in graduate education are especially encouraged to apply.

Additional Resources 

Arkansas College and Career Planning System

Scholarships for Arkansas Hispanic Students, Academic Year 2016-2017

Description: Grades 9-12 and college students are able to apply for the scholarships within this extensive list.

NOTE: Not all scholarships on this list are open to non-U.S. citizens or non-permanent residents.

Dreamer’s Roadmap

Scholarship List

Description: Through the DREAMer’s Roadmap app, prospective college students who do not possess residency or other legal status in the U.S. can safely navigate the financial aid options available to them so they can further their education.

Educators for Fair Consideration

E4FC’s College and Graduate School Scholarship Resources (List)



Description: E4FC is an organization and network built around the purpose of providing educational resources, career training, mentorship, professional development, and advocacy for undocumented immigrant communities. E4FC provides a list of scholarship resources and education programs open to undocumented students.

Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund (MALDEF)

MALDEF’s Scholarship Resource Guide for the 2018-2019 Academic Year (PDF)

Description: MALDEF is legal organization that advocates for the civil rights of Latinos in the United States. It publishes an extensive list of scholarships, including many that do not inquire about immigration status or require a valid social security number. Many scholarship awards can be processed with just the student’s name and address.

My Undocumented Life

Up-to-date information & resources for undocumented immigrants

Scholarships open to Undocumented Students (List)

Undergraduate Scholarships (List)

Graduate School Scholarships (List)

Description: My (Un)Documented Life offers a wide list of scholarships aimed to help undocumented students at different levels – in terms of demographic identity and education level. The resources can be organized by type and due date, and is a useful tool to find the scholarships that are right for you and your needs.

National Immigration Law Center (NILC)

Resources on Financial Aid & Scholarships for Students Regardless of Immigration Status (List)

Description: Established in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is one of the leading organizations in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of low-income immigrants.

The NILC publishes a comprehensive advocacy toolkit which includes a scholarship list, alongside information on state laws and tuition equity initiatives meant to make it easier for immigrants to go college.

Scholarships A-Z

ScholarshipsA-Z’s Scholarship List

Description: Scholarships A-Z believes that all students can go to college, regardless of immigration status. Scholarships listed are organized by month and due date. Select the month you’re looking for on the top of the chart. Search for due dates, contact info, amounts, and requirements.

United We DREAM

U.W.D.’s The DREAM Educational Empowerment Program (DEEP)

Description: DEEP educates, connects, and empowers immigrant students, parents and educators to close the opportunity gap and engage in local efforts to improve educational equity. (Scholarship list starts on page 4)

“Act on a Dream” at Harvard College

Harvard College’s “Act on a Dream” Handbook (PDF) (Education Information)

Description: Harvard College Act on a Dream is a student-led, student-run organization at Harvard College dedicated to eradicating the barriers that immigrant students face in realizing their full potential.  As an organization that is part of the Harvard Public Service Network, it believes in the importance of engaging all youth, regardless of background, and their adult allies in working for the preservation of America’s pledge as the land of opportunity.

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