Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Financial Aid

What Is DACA?

DACA recipient

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a junction where immigration law runs into education rights. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), on June 15, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security released the policy known as DACA.

In short, DACA is an immigration measure that potentially benefits certain young people who do not have lawful immigration status. Homeland Security believes that children who entered this country with adults and did not have the requisite intent to break immigration laws should not have to live in the shadows.

Benefits of DACA do not include permanent residency (a “green card”). DACA recipients may one day receive this benefit, but the future of immigration reform is uncertain. DACA recipients qualify for work authorization and, for a certain period of time, will be exempt from deportation. (For full eligibility criteria, visit USCIS.) Since DACA carves out certain rights and not others, it is critical for DACA college students to know how this policy impacts financial aid.

DACA and Paying for College

As the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators details, when determining how to pay for college, DACA students should consider the following guidance:

DACA students researching how to pay for college will need to understand this special immigration policy. While DACA students fall into the category of non-citizens, note that for federal student aid purposes they are not considered “eligible non-citizens.” In addition, any benefits that undocumented immigrants receive also apply to DACA recipients but not the other way around. DACA students may also want to consider contacting immigration reform non-profits, such as the Immigration Advocates Network for additional guidance on benefits and rights under DACA.

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