Affording College

First and fore­most, it’s impor­tant to know that stu­dents rarely have to pay the full tuition price list­ed for attend­ing a speci­fic col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty. There are ways to access aid, get schol­ar­ships, and get the finan­cial sup­port you need to cov­er the cost of going to col­lege.

If you are look­ing to go to col­lege as an undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dent or as a recip­i­ent of the Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) pro­gram, there are a few things to keep in mind as you plan how you will pay for col­lege. First, undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents, includ­ing DACA recip­i­ents, do not qual­i­fy for fed­er­al finan­cial aid. Addi­tion­al­ly, undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents, includ­ing DACA recip­i­ents, do not qual­i­fy for state finan­cial aid — includ­ing Ten­nessee Promise or the HOPE Schol­ar­ship. How­ev­er, there are oth­er ways to pay for col­lege, includ­ing local, state, and nation­al schol­ar­ships specif­i­cal­ly for undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents.

But don’t wor­ry! There are oth­er ways that you can get finan­cial sup­port and schol­ar­ships to help you pay for col­lege. Depend­ing on where you want to go to col­lege, you may be eli­gi­ble to apply for Equal Chance for Edu­ca­tion.

There are also many nation­al schol­ar­ship data­bas­es specif­i­cal­ly for undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents or those with DACA

Public vs. Private Colleges and Universities

As you look for finan­cial aid and schol­ar­ship options, it is impor­tant to know that tuition may be dif­fer­ent at every school, and will large­ly depend on if it’s a pub­lic or pri­vate col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty.

In Ten­nessee, there is no state law that allows undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents, includ­ing DACA recip­i­ents, access to in-state tuition rates at pub­lic col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties. This means that if you want to go to a pub­lic col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty as an undoc­u­ment­ed or DACA­ment­ed stu­dent, you will have to pay out of state rates.

In com­par­ison, pri­vate col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties have the same tuition rate for all stu­dents. While tuition costs for pri­vate insti­tu­tions may be high­er, it is impor­tant to know that pri­vate col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties have more flex­i­bil­i­ty in offer­ing insti­tu­tion­al finan­cial aid. In oth­er words, pri­vate schools have finan­cial aid they can provide to incom­ing stu­dents for mer­it, need, ath­let­ics, and/or band. 

For an inter­ac­tive map of the pri­vate col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties in Ten­nessee that provide finan­cial and/or per­son­al sup­port for undoc­u­ment­ed or DACA­ment­ed stu­dents, vis­it our undoc­u­ment­ed-friend­ly schools page.

Questions to Consider

As you look for col­leges you will be apply­ing to, here is a list of ques­tions to con­sid­er to help you pre­pare to look for ways to help you pay for col­lege:

  • Are you eli­gi­ble for fed­er­al or state finan­cial aid? If so, have you start­ed your appli­ca­tions (includ­ing FAFSA, Ten­nessee Promise, etc.)?
  • What is the list­ed tuition cost for the schools you are inter­est­ed in? Are they pub­lic or pri­vate?
  • Are there any insti­tu­tion­al schol­ar­ships you could apply or qual­i­fy for? 
  • Do the schools you’re inter­est­ed in apply­ing to have speci­fic schol­ar­ships for undoc­u­ment­ed or DACA­ment­ed stu­dents?
  • Do you qual­i­fy for the Equal Chance for Edu­ca­tion schol­ar­ship pro­gram? Are the schools you are inter­est­ed part of this pro­gram?
  • Do you have a trust­ed adult who can help you review all the tuition infor­ma­tion for the schools you are con­sid­er­ing apply­ing to?