Definition of Undocumented:

A term used to describe foreign nationals who reside in the U.S without the legal permission of the federal government.

Example: Entered the country legally on a tourist or work visa but then chose to remain in the U.S without authorization after the visa expired. à Entered the U.S without any form of documentation.

Who Are Children of Immigrants?

Children with immigrant parents whether legal or not are the fastest growing segment of the nation’s child population.

Fact: Among children with at least one unauthorized immigrant parent, 70% have parents from Mexico, 17% from other Latin American countries, 7% from Asia, 2% from Europe and Canada, and 3% from Africa and other nations.

  • The adult population of unauthorized immigrants are relatively young (35.5 median age) and have high birthrates.
  • Their children make up a much larger share of both the newborn population (8%) and the child population (7% of those younger than age 18) in the country.

Undocumented CPS Graduates

How many are there?

  • CPS does not maintain records of students’ citizenship or immigration status.
  • Legally, K-12 school personnel cannot inquire about the immigration status of students or their parents.
  • Immigration status, which includes both documented and undocumented students, is not a sufficient explanation for the gap in college enrollment.

Laws and Regulations

Permanent Residence

The steps to becoming a green card holder (permanent resident) vary by category and depend on whether a person currently lives inside or outside the United States.

*Note that it is a long and difficult process that is not open to all.

Green Card Through Family, Green Card Through a Job, Green Card Through Refugee or Asylee Status, Green Card Through Other Special Adjustment Programs

Immigrant Sensitive Laws

State and federal legislation is subject to changed over time.

1954: Brown v. Board of Education

1974: family education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

1982: Plyler vs. doe

1996: Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility (IIRIRA)

Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA)

2003: Higher Education In-State Tuition in the State of Illinois (HB60)

2011: Illinois DREAM ACT

*Over the course of the last six decades, a series of court decisions, statutes, legislative actions, and proposals have made it possible for the children of immigrants to obtain greater access to education.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 1974 (FERPA)

A federal law that protects the privacy of student education records at educational institutions, including colleges and universities.

  • Applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. department of Education
  • Gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s records; transfer to the student at age 28 or when attending a school beyond the high school level.
  • Any information that a student shares with a college or university is protected by this Act.

Plyler vs. Doe, 1982

The Supreme Court ruled that public schools are forbidden from denying immigrant students access to public K-12 education.


  • School officials cannot require children t demonstrate proof of immigration status.
  • Schools do not require Social Security numbers.
  • School staff is prohibited from sharing information about the immigration status of students. It is not shared with individuals or institutions, not even government agency that enforce immigration laws.
  • Undocumented students are required to attend school, as are all other students, until they reach the age imposed by State law.
  • Public schools and school personnel are prohibited from adopting policies or actions that deny access to education on the basis of immigration status.

In-State Tuition, 2001-2011

Several states have passes laws allowing students who attend and graduate from in state high schools to qualify for in-state tuition at their public colleges, regardless of immigration status.

Illinois DREAM ACT, 2011

When signed by Gov. Pat Quinn, these measures became effective immediately:

  • Appoint an Illinois DREAM Fund Commission
  • Establish Illinois DREAM fund
  • Amend Section 529 Prepaid and Saving Plans to Illinois
  • Require Professional Development for School Personnel

Who is an Illinois DREAMer?

In order to qualify for benefits of the Illinois DREAM Act, it is anticipated that a student must:

  • Have resided with a parent or guardian while attending high school in Illinois.
  • Have graduated high school or recieved the equivalent or a high school diploma in Illinois.
  • Have attended a high school in Illinois for at least 3 years.
  • Have at least one parent who immigrated to the U.S

Who is a DREAMer in relation to FAFSA?

  • Consider Student Status (Q14). For purposes of benefiting from state and federal student aid programs, undocumented and international students are not considered eligible noncitizens.


Eligible Non-Citizen

  • U.S Permanent Resident
  • Conditional Permanent Resident
  • Refugee
  • Asylum Granted
  • Parolee
  • Victim of Human Trafficking
  • T-Visa Holder

Citizens Who Have Undocumented Parents

“What matters in determining student eligibility for state and federal financial aid programs is the status of a student NOT that of a parent.”

How does an undocumented PARENT report on the FAFSA?

  • Parents who do not have a valid Social Security number (SSN) must report.

What stumps the process?

  • Don’t lie! False data will cause unnecessary flags.
  • A FAFSA may also be rejected when a parent submits an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). ITINs are only valid for tax purposes.

Social Security Numbers

The Social Security Administration issues three types of Social Security cards.

Type 1:

Work without restrictions.

Type 2:

 Valid for work only with DHS authorization.

Type 3:

Not valid for employment.

Individual Tax identification Number


What is an ITIN?

  • A tax processing number, issued by the Internal Revenue Service, for certain resident and nonresident aliens, their spouses, and their dependents.
  • A nine-digit number beginning with number “9” has a range of numbers from “70” to “88” for the fourth and fifth digits and is formatted like as SSN.

Can an ITIN be used on the FAFSA?

No! Absolutely not.

What is the purpose?

  • ITINs are used for tax purposes only and are not intended to serve any other purpose.

Who can get an ITIN?

  • Those not eligible for Social Security Numbers
  • It is only available to individuals who are required to have a taxpayer identification number for tax purposes.

College and Career Process

Take inventory of resources and opportunities that are currently available.


An early start to getting ready for college can provide a braoder set of options.

  1. Take an interest survey at

  1. Take courses that align with college entrance requirements
  2. While in high school, take courses that out you on a fast track to earning early college credit.
  3. Take the ACT & SAT seriously!

Standardized Tests

A Social Security number (SSN) is not required to register; do not provide a false or invalid number.

  • A common scale used to compare students from different schools and different states.
  • Find out whether they are required or recommended.
  • Approximately 93% of 4- year universities require standardized tests.

University Policies and Procedures

There are three main areas on the path to higher education where the children of immigrants, particularly undocumented students, may have special concerns or face obstacles:

Admission Policies

Tuition Policies

Financial Aid Policies


What is it? Why is it required?

To be considered for in-state tuition under HB 60 ( Public Act 93-007), universities require undocumented students to sign an affidavit that indicates a promised to legalize their immigration status as soon as eligible.

Definition of Affidavit:

A written declaration made on oath before somebody authorized to administer oaths, usually setting out the statement of a witness for court proceedings.

Major Program of Study

When you choose a program of study, consider completion requirements; not all majors are undocumented student friendly.

You may not be able to complete some programs of study, including any major that requires:

  • Clinical observation hours;
  • Background check;
  • Certification or state licensure;
  • Social Security number

According to the Illinois Association of College Admission counseling (IACAC), this relates to many of the “helping’ fields like:

  • Education
  • Law Enforcement
  • Health professional
  • Etc…

Student Loans

Federal student loans are not available to undocumented students.

Private loans are available from some banks. A qualified borrower who is undocumented must have a credit-worthy cosigner.


Scholarships represent a type of aid that is most commonly available and accessible to undocumented students.

  • Look to find scholarships (particularly local ones) that do not require citizenship, legal permanent residency, or proof of FAFSA completion.
  • Put  A LOT of time and energy into scholarships applications.
  • Research organizations to understand what they are looking to reward.
  • It’s all about the package. Do a final checklist to ensure that all necessary supporting documents are included, such as signatures.
  • Get comfortable with interviews and practice public speaking. Some private scholarships require face-to-face interviews.

Options After College


  • May be presented with opportunities to start the legalization process through employer sponsorship under rigorous requirements.
  • Entrepreneurship may be an option

       Graduate of Professional School

  • There are no restrictions to prevent attendance at Graduate/ professional schools in Illinois.
  • Some Professional schools require employment as part of their curriculum (i.e. teaching credentialing program)
  • Obtaining Certifications/ state Licenses required for some professions is difficult for undocumented immigrants due to requirements such as background-checks, social security, and state examination.
  •  College cost continues to be a concern; cosigners are needed for private loans.

         Internships & Fellowships

  • Internships provide supervised work experience and practical training in a field of profession of interest
  •  Fellowships may be viewed as paid internships, for which some undocumented students may be eligible.


  • Working on  research with faculty members at a college is one way to gain experience
  • Sometimes students receive a “stipend’ if the source of funding is tax-exempt
  • Undocumented students are not eligible for stipends that come from public college or university that is government funded


  • The size and quality of a student’s academic/ professional network will largely determine access to opportunities and information while in college and when exploring career options

Mentor’s Role and Strategies

Support Students

Counselor’s Role

You are the college and career expert.

  • Do not require students and families to reveal their immigration status.
  • Protect privileged information received through confidential interactions with students when it is a student’s best interest.
  • Notify students about the need to consult with other people.
  • Confidentially is not abbreviated by the school or counselor except when there is clear danger to the students to other persons.

When a Student Reveals

Situations in which a student might disclose to you.

ü  You are a member of his or her own ethnic/ racial group

ü  You are a trusted mentor

ü  You have imposed requirements that they cannot complete without telling you of their inability comply

ü  You are in a position to assist with a concern

ü   You have been referred by another student

*Note that students have no way of knowing whether your reaction will be positive or negative.


A Note About False Claims

Dear Mentor:

Don’t give immigrating advice, suggest that an undocumented person identify himself or herslf as a US citizen, drive without a license or use false identification.

If a question pertinent to the college planning process does not apply, ask students and families to do one of two things:

  1. Seek guidance from the source; or
  2. Opt to leave the question blank

Dear student:

Never, ever misrepresent or lie about immigration status, social security numbers etc…

*Avoid giving advice or assistance that may compromise a student’s future pathway to citizenship.

Are You Ready?

Under federal law, all students regardless of citizenship or residency are entitled to K-12 education, including college counseling services.

  • Know state and federal laws regarding undocumented students and stay up-to-date on changes.
  • Reach outs as early as possible let students know that undocumented status is not a legal bar to attending a U.S college.
  • Explain the requirements for federal financial aid when discussing financial aid at parent meetings or other group sessions: recipients must be U. S citizens or eligible noncitizens.
  • Let students know that private scholarships are available to students regardless of immigration status.

What’s happening at your school?

Bag of Tools

Recommended Reading

  • Young Lives on Hold: The College Dreams of Undocumented Students. College Board.
  • Full Text of Illinois Dream Act, 2011
  • Advising Undocumented Students.  College Board.
  • Motomura, H (2007). Amercians in Waiting: The Lost Story of Immigration and Citizenship in the United States.
  • Urrea, L.A. (2005). The Devil’s Highway: A True Story.
  • Hing, B.O. (2006). Deporting Our Souls: Values, Morality, and Immigration Policy.

Community Support

Help students create lasting support networks that can offer ongoing mentoring and advice.


Mexican American legal Defense and Education Fund www.


Coalition for Humane Immigrant rights of Los Angeles

League of United Latin American Citizens

National Immigration Law Center


Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Immigrant Youth Justice League

Show Me the Money

Make information and resources about undocumented students easily available to all students/


Get ready for College-

Harvest of Hope Foundation-

Immigrant Youth Financial Resource Guide-



Source: Mara Bucio, Chicago Public Schools








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