9 Scholarships for Undocumented Students

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As an undocumented student, you may wonder whether you’re eligible for college grants or scholarships. Fortunately, there are several opportunities that can provide a significant amount of money for college expenses. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best scholarships for undocumented students. Some of these scholarships require that you attend certain universities, and others simply provide funding for any college of your choice.

 

9 Scholarships for Undocumented Students

 

1. California Dream Act

Amount: Varies depending on need, allows students to pay in-state tuition at select universities within California.

Deadline: Opens October 1 and closes March 2

Eligibility: 

  • Undocumented students
  • 3 or more years of high school coursework or a combination of middle/high school in California or have passed the GED

Application Requirements: 

  • Online student aid application 
  • Parents must electronically sign using a PIN number

 

Ratified in 2010, the California Dream Act allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at select universities within California. It also provides funding for the Cal Grant, which is a scholarship program based on financial need.

 

2. CORE’S QUE Llueva Café Scholarship

Amount: $500

Deadline: March 14

Eligibility: 

  • Must be graduating high school or passed GED
  • Must be an undocumented student

Application Requirements: 

  • Scholarship application
  • Letter of recommendation
  • 1000 word max essay 
  • Copy of high school transcript

 

The Que Llueva Café Scholarship has awarded over $94,000 in scholarships to eligible students. CORE (Chicano Organizing in Research and Education) is focused on improving the lives of children and teenagers in the Latino/Chicano community through education.

 

3. First in the Family Humanist Scholarship

Amount: $5,000

Deadline: June 20

Eligibility: 

  • College senior with an admission letter to a 2 or 4-year college
  • Participation in service-based activities 

Application Requirements:

  • Letter of recommendation from a teacher or advisor
  • Brief essay

 

The “First in the Family” Humanist Scholarship seeks to award students of color who are the first in their family to attend college, a foster child, or may be undocumented, and “identify as agnostic, atheist, humanist and/or secular.” This award is sponsored by Black Skeptics LA, a social justice organization based in Los Angeles.

 

4. California Strawberry Commission Scholarship

Amount: Ranges from $200 to $5,000

Deadline: Opens in October and closes Februrary 1

Eligibility:

  • Parent must work as a California strawberry fieldworker
  • Eligible student must be planning on attending college as a full-time student
  • Student must maintain a GPA of 2.0 or above

Application Requirements:

  • Online application
  • Copy of transcript
  • Parent employment verification
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • 1,000 word essay

 

The California Strawberry Commission Scholarship was founded in 1994 and has provided ample scholarship money to students whose parents are strawberry growers. There are over 235 scholarship winners every year. Over $150,000 is awarded annually to eligible students.

 

5. Education First Scholarship

Amount: $5,000

Deadline: March 12

Eligibility:

  • Must attend high school in select cities across the US
  • Must be a current high school senior

Application Requirements:

  • Brief application 
  • High school transcript
  • 500-word essay

 

The Education First scholarship, founded in 1996, has awarded over 1 million dollars to students. The organization not only provides scholarships but also mentors young adults to better prepare them for the future. Education First also routinely hosts events to raise awareness about the importance of education, especially for first-generation college students.

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6. The Esperanza Education Fund

Amount: Ranges from $5,000 to $20,000

Deadline: April 1

Eligibility:

  • Either the student or both parents must have been born outside the U.S.
  • The student must be planning on enrolling in an accredited college full-time
  • Applicant must graduate from a high school in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia or hold a GED in one of these states
  • Must have a family income of less than $100,000

Application Requirements:

  • Must fill out an application that includes information on financial need
  • High school transcript
  • Listed extracurricular activities
  • 2 essays, 500 words each
  • Two letters of recommendation

 

The Esperanza Education fund is specifically geared towards helping the children of immigrants plan for their futures. The organization provides mentoring and scholarships and has provided over 1 million dollars of funding for students since its inception in 2009.

 

7. QuestBridge Scholarship

Amount: Up to the cost of full tuition at any university 

Deadline: September 29

Eligibility:

  • Must demonstrate financial need, typical candidates come from households earnings of $65,000 or less
  • Top scores and grades are preferred (top 5%-10% of high school class)
  • ACT score above 27
  • Excellent writing and reading abilities

Application Requirements:

  • Online application including financial information
  • 2 letters of recommendation from teachers 
  • School report from your high school counselor
  • High school transcript
  • Standardized test scores
  • If you are selected as a finalist, each university that you rank as one of your top choices will have additional application requirements.

 

The QuestBridge Match Scholarship is one of the most prestigious scholarship programs in the U.S. This extremely competitive scholarship matches QuestBridge finalists with early admission into top universities across the country. It must be noted that there are a few university matches that are not eligible for non-U.S. citizens, but the rest of them are available for undocumented students.

 

8. TheDream.US Scholarship–Opportunity Scholarship

Amount: Tuition coverage at 4 select universities (the equivalent of an $80,000 award)

Deadline: Opens November 1 and closes January 28

Eligibility:

  • Limited to living in and/or will graduate from a high school in Alaska, North Carolina, South Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, West Virginia, or Wisconsin
  • Be DACA or TPS eligible
  • Have taken ACT or SAT
  • Have a GPA of 2.8 or better
  • Cannot have a college degree already
  • Must demonstrate financial need

Application Requirements:

  • Must certify DACA or TPS authorization
  • Meet TheDream.US immigration criteria
  • High school transcripts and test scores
  • Provide household financial information
  • 2 essays, 750 words each

 

TheDream.US Opportunity Scholarship provides a tuition scholarship to Delaware State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Christain Brothers University, or Trinity Washington University. While the scholarship committee evaluates applicants’ GPA and test scores, they also select candidates based on their community service and extracurricular involvement, as well as their ability to overcome adversity.

 

9. TheDream.US Scholarship–National Scholarship

 

Amount: Up to $16,500 for an associates degree $33,000 at participating colleges

Deadline: Opens November 1 and closes February 25

Eligibility:

  • Have current DACA or TPS authorization
  • Resided in the US since November 2015
  • Currently in high school or graduated with a GED
  • Never convicted of a felony or misdemeanor 
  • Eligible for in-state tuition at a participating college
  • Have never enrolled in college before
  • Must have a 2.5 GPA or above
  • Can demonstrate financial need

Application Requirements:

  • Must certify DACA or TPS authorization
  • Meet immigration criteria
  • High school transcripts and test scores
  • Provide household financial income
  • 2 essays, 750 words each

 

TheDream.US National Scholarship provides a tuition award for students at a list of partner colleges. This award is more general than the Opportunity Award, as students can choose from a larger list of partner schools. However, similar to the Opportunity Scholarship, applicants are assessed based on their test scores and GPA, as well as commitment to community service. The scholarship committee also look at how applicants have overcome barriers due to their undocumented status.

 

4 Tips for Applying to Scholarships

 

1. Tell Your Story in Your Own Voice

 

If you have to write a scholarship essay and describe your personal experiences, stay true to yourself and write about what you know. Often, the best essays by students are able to show that the writer has a clear connection to the story. Scholarship committees want to get to know you as much as possible, so writing what you know about will help the committee gain insight into your personal life.

 

2. Show Impact

 

Many of these internships, including the Que Llueva Scholarship as well as the Esperanza Education Fund, look for candidates that have demonstrated that they’ve made an impact in their community, whether that is at school or at home. Several of these scholarships are also sponsored by organizations that prioritize social justice initiatives and mentorship, so showing your involvement in those types of activities could benefit you.

 

3. Look Beyond Test Scores and GPA

 

Many of these scholarships look at your personal characteristics, not just your test scores. Don’t worry if you feel like you aren’t the perfect student or have the highest test scores. Scholarships look holistically for well-rounded individuals and consider all personal attributes when making decisions.

 

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help!

 

Every year, school counselors help students apply for college or find jobs, and applying for scholarships is no different. If you feel like you need help with your application, don’t be afraid to ask your counselor. Your counselor has likely helped many students apply for scholarships, and may be able to answer questions you have about the process. Similarly, teachers may be able to help proofread your essays.

 

At CollegeVine, we’re committed to helping students navigate the admissions process and gain acceptance to their dream schools. Do you have more questions about scholarships or another topic? Check out our free Q&A forum for advice from admissions experts and peers. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals.

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Short Bio
Juliette is a senior at Cornell University studying Industrial & Labor Relations. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, running, drinking coffee, and exploring different hiking trails in Ithaca.

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