All US citizens, permanent residents, and eligible noncitizens are eligible to apply for federal student aid—

including those with parents who are undocumented or not citizens and don’t have a Social Security number (SSN).

If you’re a first-generation student applying to college, you’re not alone. According to the Higher Ed Immigration Portal, more than one in three students in the United States is either an international student or a first or second generation immigrant. Here, common questions and answers about the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and citizenship.

Can I Fill Out the FAFSA if My Parents Are Undocumented?

You can still fill out the FAFSA. Because of the strict rules associated with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the information you disclose on your FAFSA cannot be shared unless there are very specific circumstances, like a court order. Financial aid officers are not required to report undocumented students (or parents) to immigration authorities, and it would be a violation of the law for them to do so in most cases.

What if the FAFSA Asks for My Parent’s SSN?

If you complete the FAFSA online, put nine zeroes into the parent SSN field. If you get an error message or need help, visit

What if My Parents Don’t File Taxes in the United States?

If your parents don’t file a federal tax return or didn’t file a tax return during that year, the school may require verification forms such as the Non-Tax Filer Parent Form or an Income and Expense Report.

What if my Parents Don’t Want to Share Their Financial Information?

If your parents are not willing to provide their financial information for the FAFSA, you can indicate that there are special circumstances so you can complete the application without those details. This does mean, however, that you will not receive your Student Aid Index (SAI), formally known as the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and you should contact the school’s financial aid office to provide documentation to determine eligibility.

What if I’m Not a Citizen?

You may still qualify for federal student aid. There are some circumstances under which a non-US citizen can qualify for federal student aid, such as having a Resident Alien Card (green card), having refugee status, or being a victim of human trafficking. Talk with your high school counselor and the admissions and financial aid offices of the schools on your list.

How Do I Get Help Filling Out the FAFSA?

The new simplified FAFSA is just 36 questions (down from 108). If you have any questions, is a great first resource. Your high school counselor may also be able to assist you and point you to resources, such as financial aid workshops. Some states offer free financial aid workshops, both in person and online. Local community colleges may offer them as well, and you don’t necessarily need to be a prospective student to attend.

Never assume anything when it comes to completing the FAFSA. Not only does it determine your eligibility for federal student aid, but it is also used by states and colleges to grant scholarships and other non-federal aid. If you are not sure about how to answer specific questions, visit You can also call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) for assistance.

FAFSA® is a registered trademark of the US Department of Education and is not affiliated with Discover® Student Loans.

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