Born in the USA
July 17, 2008 9:07 PM   Subscribe

In the United States, if a college-bound student is under the age of 24 and s/he is a legal citizen, but his/her parents are undocumented/illegal residents, how does this student fill out the FAFSA?

Also, are there other outside financial resources for these students that are private and not affiliated with the federal government?

(This is a hypothetical situation; I'm asking for the sake of my own curiosity).
posted by chara to Education (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Anyone (legal) can fill out a FASFA. You can skip the whole section on parent income and contribution if you're independent or claiming to be such.

Just don't do drugs, okay?
posted by wfrgms at 9:18 PM on July 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

This guide explains a bit at the bottom. See also a thread here
posted by knile at 9:19 PM on July 17, 2008

This is so funny. I never have a reason to answer these questions on here. However, I am currently one of those folks you might get if you call 1-800-4FED AID to help you with just such a question. (Summer job)

I'm sorry, but this is going to be a long answer.

First off, age is not the only factor to determine whether the parents info even has to be on the form. There are 8 dependency questions on the 2008-2009 FAFSA. If the student can answer yes to ANY of these, then he/she does not list parent info unless they want to. To see these questions, go to and click on the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet (a PDF document meant to prepare you to fill out the FAFSA on the web). Also, you do not have to be 24, you may be an late 23 yr old if born in the last part of the year.

Second, the only citizenship status that matters is the student's. The student must simply list the parents Social Security Number as 000000000 for each parent if they do not have one. Do not substitute an alien registration number or anything of that sort. However, the parent will not be eligible to sign online with a PIN number, but the student can print out a signature page to send in instead. (This will lengthen the processing time from 3-5 business days to 2-3 weeks, so I suggest your hypothetical friend get a move on when filling it out.) If parent info is on there, the student will still list parent income info as asked for on the form, even if they did not fill out tax forms.

As for other resources, you have to be VERY careful when checking out these resources. There are a lot of scams out there that will steal your money or identity. I suggest going to and clicking on the Tools and Resources from the menu on the left hand side of the screen. There is TONS of good information on this site. You might check out the Scholarship Wizard on there as well.

Resources will vary from region to region and school to school. So, the best thing to do is to speak with someone in the Financial Aid Office at the school the student will be attending (particularly the Financial Aid Administrator) about local and state financial aid opportunities.

If you have a particular question that I did not answer, please let me know.
posted by Inside Out Girl at 10:21 PM on July 17, 2008 [5 favorites]

I hope all goes well with your application (FAFSA got me through school), but isn't this just an invitation for the federal government to find out about your parents' status? If you'll be in school for four years, that's plenty of time for kooky laws to be passed, especially after McCain is elected (that's right, I said after, not if), that could bite you in the ass.

Privacy laws, bureaucracy, and Inside Out Girl's advice aside, it might be worth it to consider forgetting about federal assistance.
posted by Rykey at 5:02 AM on July 18, 2008

Trust me, we have plenty of families with parents who have no SSN filing the FAFSA. You list your parents name, SSN, Date of Birth, and income on the form, not their address. Most students seem to live either on campus or on their own. So, looking at the form, a person might even assume that the parents live outside of the US if they have no SSN. The department of education won't know (or care) where your parents are living, as long as they have the student's address. No one has time to track down all of the illegal residents in the U.S., especially if they are otherwise law abiding. I would hate to see a potential student not take advantage of an opportunity to further their education.

By the way, I don't know what country the hypothetical parents are from or what language they speak primarily, but both the FAFSA site and the PIN site can be turned from English to Spanish using a link on the top lefthand corner of the screen. (also the site)
posted by Inside Out Girl at 11:53 AM on July 18, 2008

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