By Divya Raghavan
As the last FAFSA deadlines approach, students with unusual family circumstances struggle to complete their applications to help fund their college degree. Some may have lived outside their home on their own, some may have LGBT parents, and some have to deal with tricky immigration statuses. In response, NerdScholar released a FAFSA Guide to help these students with unusual family circumstances.
An estimated 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools each year. Although by law these students receive a public school education up until the twelfth grade, their futures beyond high school are uncertain.
Not only are students unable to pursue a college degree due to financial or legal restraints, some have parents who are immigrants or are undocumented students themselves.
The FAFSA is an enormous barrier for undocumented students as well as students with undocumented parents. Even though undocumented students cannot access federal financial aid funds, many universities require that all students applying for aid fill out the FAFSA so the university has a standardized report of each student’s financial situation and can calculate an expected family contribution number (EFC) to determine aid packages.
Unfortunately, many undocumented students and parents are afraid of putting their information into the federal government’s hands, and so many undocumented students do not apply for aid at all as a result.
As we get approach and pass FAFSA deadlines, these students will need help with their financial aid forms. This new FAFSA guide will help students with nontraditional families navigate the FAFSA, and give step-by-step instructions for undocumented immigrants as well as documented students with undocumented parents.
As the American family unit evolves and demographics continue to change,it becomes increasingly important to ensure that all students are able to apply for financial aid, regardless of their family or financial situation.
First-year college students who apply for financial aid are 72% more likely to stay in school than those who are eligible but do not apply.
NerdScholar seeks to empower and enable these students with their new FAFSA Guide.
Divya Raghavan is a Strategy Analyst at NerdScholar, dedicated to empower students with financial literacy tools and scholarship for Hispanics.