Students who are immigrants, are undocumented, or have DACA
In Washington, students don’t have to be U.S. citizens to get state financial aid or resident tuition. There are different ways to qualify for immigrant students—including those who are undocumented.
Financial aid and resident tuition
The first, best step for all students is to apply for financial aid. In Washington, there are two ways to apply and both of them are free. Students need to pick one:
- WASFA (Washington Application for State Financial Aid)
- FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
The WASFA is for students who aren’t eligible for federal aid because of their immigration status, including students who have DACA or are undocumented. The FAFSA is for U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, and eligible non-citizens.
Unsure about whether to apply for financial aid with the FAFSA or the WASFA? Take the WASFA Questionnaire.
Students must be Washington residents to get state financial aid. In most cases, a Washington resident is someone who lives in the state for one year immediately prior to starting their college or program, regardless of immigration status or citizenship. But there are other ways to be a resident. Learn more on our Student Residency page.
State financial aid
State financial aid
Washington has many different state financial aid programs that are open to immigrant and undocumented students. In addition to being a Washington resident, each program has its own requirements.
There are scholarships for students who aren’t U.S. citizens, and some are specifically for undocumented students. Colleges have the best information about what’s available to their students. Check with a college’s financial aid office, undocumented student center, or multicultural center.
Here are just a few:
- Beyond Dreaming Scholarship Guide (WA specific)
- Washboard.org allows students to search for scholarships that don’t require U.S. citizenship.
- Immigrants Rising 2020 Scholarships (National)
- The Dream.US scholarship is open to community college graduates who transfer to University of Washington - Seattle.
- Students with DACA can apply for the Scholarship America DREAM Award
- My Undocumented Life blog scholarship list (National)
Tuition at Washington’s public colleges and universities is less expensive for Washington residents. Non-residents pay a higher rate.
Also, high school students can earn college credit through dual credit programs like Running Start or College in the High School. These programs do not ask for citizenship status. They also do not require students to be residents.
More resources for undocumented and other immigrant students
State Work Study: Students with DACA and other students with an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) are legally eligible to work. This means students who meet program, income, and residency requirements may be able to get a job through State Work Study funding.
Starting a business: Immigrants Rising offers entrepreneurship and freelancing resources to help undocumented students without DACA and students without an EAD start their own business.
General COVID-19 information in multiple languages
- King County COVID-19 resource guide for immigrants in multiple languages.
- Support for undocumented communities from Immigrants Rising (English | Español).
- The Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network Resource Finder has COVID-19 resources and more.
COVID-19 healthcare and public benefits
- COVID-related healthcare and testing in English, Español, and other languages at WashingtonLawHelp.org.
- Free and low-cost healthcare clinics and resources at United We Dream.
- Unemployment insurance eligibility for immigrants from National Employment Law Center.
Getting healthcare and testing for COVID-19 will not affect the public charge test for immigrants who apply for a green card. The City of Seattle (multiple languages) has more information about public charge and public benefits in multiple languages.
Many colleges have emergency aid for undocumented students. Students should check with their school’s financial aid office, undocumented student center, or multicultural center to find out if they offer this resource.
Washington’s Disaster Cash Assistance Program (DCAP) is available from the Department of Social and Human Services (DSHS).
- Once a year during a state of emergency, it can assist people in Washington who wouldn’t normally be eligible for cash benefits.
- It does not require a social security number to apply.
- It is not part of the public charge test.
- DSHS won’t verify immigration information with USCIS for people who are only eligible for DCAP.
The Ingersoll Gender Center offers financial assistance to Washingtonians who identify as trans or gender diverse, regardless of citizenship.
Emergency Relief Grant
The State of Washington is offering money to help resident undocumented students who have been financially affected by COVID-19. For more information contact your financial aid office or read more about Undocumented Student Emergency Grants here.
Legal resources for students who have DACA
Students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, can find information about the current status of this program and other DACA resources at OneAmerica. OneAmerica also has a Washington DACA Toolkit for undocumented people with or without DACA in Washington. The National Immigration Law Center also has DACA information.
Funding for DACA applications fees
Students who need to apply for or renew their DACA status can contact their college’s undocumented student center or multicultural center to find out if they offer DACA renewal application funding.
Students who live or work in Seattle can apply for DACA application funding from El Centro de la Raza.
The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services may offer a DACA application fee scholarship. Anyone can apply.
Legal immigration services
Some colleges offer legal immigration services to undocumented and other immigrant students. Students should ask their school’s undocumented student center or multicultural center if this service exists.
The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project offers free consultations to qualified individuals. They have offices in Seattle, Tacoma, Wenatchee, and Granger.
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center has an Immigration Preparedness Toolkit with immigrant rights and other legal information.
Colleges and Universities
Washington’s colleges and universities support and welcome undocumented and other immigrant students. Services vary by campus. Explore the links below to find a campus that best serves your needs.
• Central Washington University
• Eastern Washington University
• The Evergreen State College
• University of Washington
• Washington State University
• Western Washington University
Independent Colleges of Washington
• Gonzaga University
• Heritage University
• Pacific Lutheran University
• Saint Martin's University
• Seattle Pacific University
• Seattle University
• University of Puget Sound
• Walla Walla University
• Whitman College
• Whitworth University
Public community and technical colleges
The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges has information for undocumented students. Students can also look at individual college’s diversity, equity and inclusion websites. These colleges have websites specifically for undocumented students:
• Highline College
• Lake Washington Institute of Technology
• Wenatchee Valley College