The college application process presents a lot of unknowns. For an undocumented student it can be even more challenging, but there are people and processes in place to help!
Here are some tips on how to get started:
- Look up the admission policies for undocumented students at your state’s public colleges. In Georgia, undocumented students can attend public universities if they pay out-of-state tuition. Private colleges usually have more lenient policies. Georgia private colleges such as Oglethorpe University, Emory University, and Agnes Scott College accept DACA and undocumented students.
- Make a list of schools you are interested in. Think about student body size, location, and majors offered. How far do you want to be from home? Is there public transportation nearby? Try to narrow down your search to 5-7 schools.
- Connect with each school’s Admission Office. Use the college’s website to find out who your admission counselor is, send them an email and introduce yourself. Remember: You do not have to disclose your immigration status. If you choose to do so, know that you are protected under FERPA, a law that protects the privacy of student education records. Disclosing your status will help the admission office better understand how to serve your needs, but it is not required.
- Become familiar with application requirements for each college and start writing your essays. Does the school require letters of recommendation? Do they accept the Common App? Ask a teacher for help on your college essay, write a few drafts, and make sure you proofread. If you are struggling with the cost of application fees, ask your admission counselor if they can provide an application fee waiver.
- Submit your applications and check your email often! I suggest creating an email account just for college stuff, so you have everything in one place. Your first and last name as the email is the most professional, or you can use something like JohnSmithCollege@gmail.com.
A few other tricks:
- You can apply to outside scholarships – and there are a TON of them! Here is a list of scholarships that do not require proof of citizenship.
- Start early. Junior year is a great time to start looking into colleges, taking the SAT/ACT, and attending college fairs. That said, many colleges have rolling admission and accept applications year-round.
- Undocumented students are not eligible to receive federal financial aid (like from the FAFSA) but ask the colleges you apply to if they have internal financial aid forms. Many colleges have a separate form to assess financial need of those unable to file the FAFSA.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help! It is the job of the admission office staff to help you, and they enjoy doing it. Email and follow up, and ask all the questions you have – they are there to help!
Oglethorpe University partners with theDream.US to offer full tuition scholarships for undocumented and DACA students. Learn more.