Federal student aid is available only to students who are U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, U.S. Permanent Residents or one of a limited number of types of eligible noncitizens. Most state, college and private scholarship programs use similar criteria for their own financial aid programs.

U.S. Citizens

U.S. Citizens are eligible for federal student aid, regardless of the citizenship status of their parents.

Students who are U.S. citizens must provide their Social Security Number (SSN) on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If their citizenship status is not associated with their Social Security Number, it will cause a data mismatch and they will need to update their records with the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA).

Students from the Freely Associated States are not required to have a Social Security Number.

Dreamers (DACA students) are not eligible for federal student aid despite having a Social Security Number.

U.S. Nationals

U.S. Nationals are eligible for federal student aid.

Although all U.S. Citizens are U.S. Nationals, not all U.S. Nationals are U.S. Citizens. In particular, students born in American Samoa or Swains Island are U.S. Nationals and eligible for federal student aid even if they are not U.S. Citizens.

U.S. Permanent Residents

U.S. Permanent Residents, also known as green card holders, are eligible for federal student aid.

Note that the student must have received permanent resident status to be eligible for federal student aid. Students who have applied for permanent resident status but not yet received their green card are not yet eligible for federal student aid.

For example, students who have received notice of approval to apply for permanent resident status, who have a temporary resident card (Form I-688, Form I-688A or Form I-688B) or who have temporary protected status are not eligible for federal student aid.

Students who are permanent residents or eligible noncitizens must provide their Alien Registration Number (ARN) on the FAFSA. If the student’s Alien Registration Number has 8 digits, they should add a zero before the 8-digit number.

Eligible Noncitizens

Certain types of noncitizens are eligible for federal student aid.

Eligible noncitizens include students with one of the following statuses on their I-94 arrival-departure record from the Department of Homeland Security:

  • Refuge
  • Asylum Granted
  • Cuban-Haitian Entrant
  • Conditional Permanent Resident (e.g., has a Conditional Green Card I-551C)
  • Conditional Entrant (issued before 4/1/1980)
  • Parolee (valid for at least one year and status has not expired)
  • Victim of Human Trafficking (T visa)
  • Battered Immigrant Qualified Alien (and their children) admitted under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
  • Citizen of the Freely Associated States (e.g., Federated States of Micronesia (FM), Republic of the Marshall Islands (MH), or Republic of Palau (PW))
  • Native American born in Canada but eligible under the terms of the Jay Treaty of 1789

Note that eligibility for federal student aid is limited for citizens of the Freely Associated States. Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands are eligible only for the Federal Pell Grant. Citizens of the Republic of Palau are eligible only for the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and Federal Work-Study (FWS).

If a student’s status has expired, they must renew that status before filing the FAFSA to be eligible for federal student aid.

Not Eligible

Students who are admitted to the U.S. under an A, B, C, D, E, F (F-1, F-2), G, H, I, J (J-1, J-2), K, L, M-1, N, NATO, O, P, Q, R, S, TN, TD, TROV, or V series visa are not eligible for federal student aid.