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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:

  1. WASFA (Washington Application for State Financial Aid)
  2. 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. 

Scholarships

Scholarships

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: 

Resident tuition 

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

Employment

Employment 

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.

COVID-19 

General COVID-19 information in multiple languages
COVID-19 healthcare and public benefits 

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.  

Cash assistance

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 COVID-19 Relief Fund offers emergency funding for Washington’s undocumented population.

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 

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.

Public baccalaureates
•    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