JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Information for Non-Eligible Noncitizens

Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act

The Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act allows eligible undocumented students who are disqualified from federal financial aid to apply for state financial aid, including programs administered by ISAC.

The Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid provides a pathway for these qualified students to apply for a Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant, the state's largest need-based grant program for low-income college students.

Eligible Noncitizens

Effective January 1, 2020, the definition of “eligible noncitizen” for ISAC gift assistance programs was expanded to include criteria from the RISE Act. Illinois residents who do not meet the federal definition of eligible noncitizen, but who meet the state criteria, as defined in ISAC’s Administrative Rules, are eligible to apply for state financial aid.

From ISAC Administrative Rules, General Provisions, Section 2700.20, Definitions:

  • “Eligible Noncitizen” – A noncitizen who is eligible for federal student assistance pursuant to section 484 of the HEA (20 USC 1091); or a noncitizen or person who is not a permanent resident of the United States, who does not meet the eligibility criteria for federal student assistance pursuant to section 484 of the HEA but who meets all of the following criteria:
    • the individual resided with his or her parent or guardian while attending a public or private high school in this State;
    • the individual graduated from a public or private high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in this State;
    • the individual attended school in this State for at least 3 years as of the date the individual graduated from high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in this State;
    • the individual provides an affidavit stating that the individual will file an application to become a permanent resident of the United States at the earliest opportunity the individual is eligible to do so; and
    • the individual has not established a residence outside of this State.

If you meet the eligibility criteria listed above, you are eligible to apply for state financial aid.

For information on the federal definition of eligible noncitizen, visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Non-Eligible Noncitizens

For purposes of ISAC programs, a noneligible noncitizen is a student who does not meet either the federal or the state definition of eligible noncitizen, and therefore is not eligible to apply for ISAC programs. However, there may be other options available, and you are encouraged to visit the resources listed below.

Non-U.S. citizens planning to attend college in the U.S. can find information and assistance, including legal and other support services through the following links:

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

DACA is a program through which undocumented young people brought to this country by their parents could get a temporary reprieve from deportation and receive permission to work, study and obtain driver's licenses. DACA participants voluntarily signed up for the program through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and their status was renewable every two years.

On September 5, 2017, it was announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy would be rescinded, with a six-month wind-down, during which no new applications were to be accepted under the program. The State of Illinois recognizes the significant uncertainty this created for those in the DACA program as well as other undocumented students and their families. As part of our mission to make college accessible and affordable for all families in Illinois, ISAC will continue to support and assist these students by providing information and assistance in navigating the college planning and financial aid processes.

Joint Statement of IBHE, ICCB, ISAC and FIICU on Rescission of DACA, Issued September 8, 2017

Due to federal court orders in early 2018, the USCIS resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA. The USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. For more information, visit Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: Response to January 2018 Preliminary Injunction.

As of August 1, 2019, USCIS returned to a one-year filing window across the board for requesting renewal of an expired period of DACA.

For information about financial aid eligibility as a DACA student, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Aid website.

Questions and Answers for Undocumented Students

Q. If I have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), am I eligible for federal student aid?

A. Undocumented students, including DACA recipients, are not eligible for federal student aid, but you may still be eligible for state or college aid, in addition to private scholarships. Check with your college’s financial aid office for more information.

Q. Should DACA students complete the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid to apply for state aid?

A. DACA students who meet the criteria specified by the RISE Act are eligible to apply for state financial aid programs and are able to apply for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant through the Alternative Application. Because the decision to apply for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Alternative Application involves a variety of considerations, it is a decision best made by the student together with a counseling or financial aid professional who is working directly with the student.

Additional guidance for DACA students is provided on the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Aid web site and in their fact sheet about financial aid for undocumented students.

Q. Do I need a Social Security Number (SSN) to complete the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid?

A. An undocumented student does not need an SSN to complete the Alternative Application, and parents of dependent students who will provide their data on the Alternative Application do not need an SSN to complete their section of the application.

Q. Do I need a Social Security Number (SSN) to complete the FAFSA® form?

A. Yes. An SSN is necessary to complete the FAFSA form. If you are completing a FAFSA form online at fafsa.gov or through the myStudentAid mobile app, an SSN is also required to create a username and password called the FSA ID, which can be used to electronically sign the FAFSA form and to access the myStudentAid mobile app.

Most undocumented students do not have an SSN; thus, they cannot complete the FAFSA form. However, DACA students with SSNs can complete the FAFSA form. For information about obtaining an SSN, refer to information available for DACA students on the Social Security Administration’s website.

Illinois DREAM Fund

Designed to make scholarships, college savings, and prepaid tuition programs available to undocumented students who graduated from Illinois high schools, the Illinois DREAM Act was signed into law on August 1, 2011 (Public Act 97-0233), creating the Illinois DREAM Fund, and a nine-member Illinois DREAM Commission, appointed by the governor with Senate consent.

The DREAM Fund Commission is responsible for raising contributions for the Illinois DREAM Fund, establishing a not-for-profit entity to administer the Fund, publicizing the availability of scholarships from the DREAM Fund, and selecting recipients. The DREAM Fund Commission is also responsible for researching issues pertaining to access and success of children of immigrants in higher education. They also develop and run training programs for high school counselors and admissions and financial aid staff. Professional development activities for high school counselors are required to include information on undocumented students’ opportunities in postsecondary education.

To receive a scholarship from the DREAM Fund, a student will have to meet these requirements: must have at least one parent who immigrated to the U.S., must have lived with a parent or guardian while going to high school in Illinois, must have graduated from that high school or received a GED, and must have attended school in Illinois for at least three years before graduating or receiving a GED certificate.

The Illinois DREAM Act also made the State’s 529 college savings and prepaid tuition programs available to Illinoisans with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN), regardless of whether they have Social Security Numbers. This means that those undocumented Illinoisans with ITINs are eligible to participate in the Bright Start and Bright Directions college savings plans and the College Illinois! Prepaid Tuition Program.

For more information about DREAM Fund scholarships, visit the Illinois Dream Fund’s Facebook page.