Financial Aid Benefits for Undocumented Students

Carl Krueger, Project Coordinator, Policy Analysis & Research, WICHE
May 27, 2015 1:00:23 PM

As support grows for providing postsecondary opportunities to undocumented students in several states, legislative activity has included the extension of financial aid benefits, in addition to offering in-state tuition. Currently, five states offer both in-state tuition and financial aid benefits to undocumented students: California, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington. The aid generally falls into two categories - state-funded aid and private or institutional aid. Undocumented immigrants are ineligible to receive any kind of federal student aid.


Collectively known as the "California Dream Act," two bills that passed during the 2011 legislative session allow undocumented students who meet the criteria to pay in-state tuition, as established in 2001's AB 540, to also access financial aid opportunities. AB 130 allows students to apply for non-state funded scholarships to attend postsecondary education, while AB 131 allows students to apply for and receive state-funded financial aid.

Known as the "California DREAM Loan Program" and passed  in 2014, SB 1210 enables qualified students to borrow no more than $4,000 within a single academic year and have 10 years to repay the loan following a six-month grace period upon graduation or dropping out of college.


In 2013, Minnesota passed the "Path to Prosperity Act" as part of that session's omnibus higher education bill. Originally introduced as SF 723, what is now more commonly referred to as the "Minnesota Dream Act" provides for private scholarship aid, in addition to in-state tuition benefits, for undocumented students.

New Mexico

SB 582, which passed in 2005, states that "any tuition rate or state-funded financial aid that is granted to residents of New Mexico" similarly be granted to undocumented students, provided they attended a New Mexico high school for at least one year and graduated.  


Passed in 2001, HB 1403 granted undocumented students access to state financial aid and in-state tuition rates. To receive these benefits, a student must have resided in the state for three years, leading to receipt of a GED or graduation from a Texas high school.


In 2013, legislators passed HB 1817, also known as the "Washington Dream Act," which provides financial aid to undocumented students. To receive aid, a student must have lived in the state for at least three years and graduated from a Washington high school.