College Students With Temporary Protection Status (TPS)
Part of American college campuses being melting pots entails students not only having different nationalities, but also different citizenships. As U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services describes, as part of a humanitarian mission, the United States created a temporary protected status (TPS), which allows citizens from certain unsafe countries to temporarily and lawfully remain in the U.S. and even work here.
TPS Student Rights
When considering college, a TPS student may have numerous important questions, such as:
- Am I permitted to attend college?
- If I attend a state college, will I qualify for in-state tuition?
- Do I qualify for federal financial aid?
Immigration law and education law are separate entities, but a student with TPS status simultaneously triggers both of these legal areas. TPS students are best advised to contact colleges of interest to learn if they are eligible for admission. It is important to note that there is no federally imposed bar to college admission for TPS holders.
Eligibility for In-State Tuition
The first factor in paying for college is the tuition cost. State schools offer lower in-state tuition to state residents. As the Washington Post has reported, some states, including Virginia, permit TPS students to pay in-state tuition fees at state colleges. Prospective students who are interested in matriculating at a school within their state college system should contact the school to learn if TPS status holders are eligible for in-state tuition. If so, the prospective student will also need to satisfy the school’s residency requirements.
Federal Financial Aid
According to the 2011 – 2012 Federal Student Aid Handbook, in order to qualify for federal financial aid, a student must either be a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen. TPS holders are not considered eligible non-citizens and therefore do not qualify for any federal aid, including grants and loans.
State Financial Aid
In general, states require students to be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen in order to receive state aid. TPS holders do not meet the immigration status requirements for state aid. TPS students are best advised to contact the financial aid office of their home state schools and inquire if there are eligible for any other funding resources.
Schools are aware of how immigration status can limit financial aid options and may have developed strategies to assist non-citizen or non-permanent resident students. Some private colleges may provide scholarships to TPS students, an option which should be considered and explored.
Borrowing a Private Loan
Similar to international students, TPS students who attend eligible U.S. schools may apply for a private loan to finance college. A cosigner will be required. An eligible cosigner will need to be U.S. citizen or non-permanent resident and meet the loan’s creditworthiness criteria.
Exercising Your Right to Work
An essential benefit of TPS is that holders have the right to apply for the employment authorization document (EAD) and lawfully work in the United States. The right to work and earn an income, coupled with lower in-state tuition (where applicable), means that TPS holders can potentially self-finance their college education. One huge upshot of this strategy is that you will not graduate with student loan debt.