Undocumented Students FAQ
Can undocumented students attend CUNY schools?
Yes. Students who have received part or all of their secondary/high school education outside the United States must carefully review the CUNY application requirements. Undocumented immigrants are welcome to apply to CUNY and should follow the same steps for admission as any other applicant.
What is the tuition fee for undocumented students?
All CUNY students, including undocumented students, benefit from a 2001 New York State law that expanded who can qualify for in-state tuition <pdf>. That law allows students, including undocumented students, to pay in-state tuition if any of the following applies:
- were enrolled in CUNY for the Fall 2001 semester, and qualified for in-state tuition at that time; or
- attended a New York State high school for two or more years, graduated, and applied to attend a CUNY institution within five years of receiving a New York State diploma; or
- they attended an approved New York State program for the General Educational Development (GED) exam preparation, received a GED from New York State, and applied to attend a CUNY institution within five years of receiving the New York State GED. GED holders who graduated from High School either in the United States or overseas are not eligible for this benefit.
Individuals qualifying based on the 2001 state law are eligible for in-state tuition even if they have not resided in New York State for one year. Note: To get in-state tuition, undocumented immigrants must file an affidavit (a sworn, written statement signed by the applicant) stating that they will apply to legalize their status as soon as they are eligible. At CUNY, the admissions office can provide you with samples of the affidavits.
Can undocumented students receive financial assistance?
Undocumented students are generally ineligible for state or federal financial aid. However, they may qualify for certain private scholarships, depending on the requirements. Please speak with an admissions counselor for information on scholarships, financial assistance, and how to apply to CUNY. Applications for all CUNY colleges and programs are available online at www.cuny.edu, and from the Office of Admission Services by calling 1-800-CUNY-YES.
Undocumented students with outstanding academic records should consider CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College. If they meet the in-state tuition requirements described above and they are accepted into the honors college, they qualify for a full tuition scholarship, a laptop, and a stipend. Honors College students who do not meet the in-state tuition test may qualify for limited assistance. For additional information about the Macaulay Honors College please contact:
Can CUNY provide free or low cost immigration services to undocumented students?
Yes. CUNY Citizenship Now provides free, high quality, and confidential immigration law services to help individuals and families on their path to U.S. citizenship. Our attorneys and paralegals offer one-on-one consultations to assess participants’ eligibility for legal benefits and assist them in applying when qualified. To learn more about this service, please visit its website: CUNY Citizenship Now
What is Deferred Action for Childhoods Arrivals (DACA)?
DACA is an executive order issued by President Obama on June 15 2012, which gives the authority to the Department of Homeland Security to grant deferred action to certain individuals who came to the United States as children for a period of two years, subject to renewal. To learn more visit the USCIS website: Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
What are the benefits of applying for DACA?
Some benefits of deferred action may include:
- work authorization
- social security number
- driver's license (depending on the state you live in)
What is the criteria to apply for DACA?
You may request DACA if you:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.