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Special Populations / Financial Aid for Special Populations

Financial Aid for Special Populations

Financial Aid for Special Populations


Certain non-United States citizens are eligible for U.S. Department of Education financial aid assistance.

“Eligible non-citizens” include the following:

  • U.S. permanent resident with an Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-551)
  • Conditional permanent resident (I-551C)
  • Holders of Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) stating
    • Refugee
    • Asylum Granted
    • Indefinite Parole
    • Humanitarian Parole
    • Cuban-Haitian Entrant

An eligible noncitizen must provide their Alien Registration Number (ARN) on the U.S. Department of Education’s financial aid application called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). For more information, please visit:, it is the student’s status that impacts eligibility, not their parents. Students who are eligible that have parents who are undocumented ARE eligible for federal financial aid- and should file their FAFSA.

According to the International Affairs Office of the U.S. Department of Education, while the U.S. government does not provide general scholarship assistance for international students, nor are international students eligible for loans or grants provided to U.S. citizens and permanent residents by the U.S. Department of Education or other federal agencies, many countries offer foreign study funding in the form of grants or scholarships for their own nationals who are admitted to an approved program or institution abroad and who qualify for the assistance program. You should check with your national higher education authorities.

Undocumented Students

Students who do not have documentation status in the United States are not eligible for federal financial aid programs (and cannot file the FAFSA). There are other forms of financial aid available. Check with your college (see below) or search for private scholarships that support students who are undocumented and/or immigrants. Visit for a resource guide.

Institutional and Local Assistance

Many U.S. academic institutions have their own resources for assisting international students. It is important for you to check with the international admissions office to discover if you may be eligible for any institutional or community support that may be available. Financial aid application requirements will vary by school. Talk with someone in the International Admissions office at the schools which most interest you.

Financial Aid for Foreign Schools FAQs

Financial aid is a major consideration for studying in a foreign country. A list of currently participating schools can be accessed here under the "International Schools That Participate in the Federal Student Loan Programs" link.

If I am attending a foreign school through a Study Abroad Program sponsored by my domestic school, do I apply for federal student aid through the foreign school?

  • No. Federal student aid for a short period or a study abroad program is processed by the student’s postsecondary school in the U.S.
  • Students must file a FAFSA in order to receive Federal Aid
    • Start this process early to get all necessary paperwork done on time at both their domestic school, and foreign School. 

What criteria do I have to meet to borrow a federal student loan for attendance at a foreign institution?

The qualified student must be enrolled as a “regular” student (enrolled for the purpose of obtaining a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential offered by the school.) A student who has a high school diploma, a secondary school completion credential, or its recognized equivalent is considered qualified.

  • A student must be enrolled at least half time in order to receive aid.
  • A student must make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) as determined by the school.
  • The student must meet criteria related to citizenship.
  • The student must have a correct social security number.
  • The student must not be in default on any Title IV program loan (unless he or she has taken prescribed steps to cure the default), be in receipt of excess Title IV loan amounts or grant payments, or have property that is subject to a judgment lien for a debt owed to the United States (U.S.).
  • The student must satisfy Selective Service registration requirements, and not be subject to ineligibility based on a drug conviction.

How do I apply for federal student aid?

  • To apply for a loan, the student must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). All students (undergraduate and graduate) may access the FAFSA at

Need Help?

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