Latinos are the largest minority population on college campuses today. However, many still face barriers to higher education because they have unusual family circumstances. They may have lived outside the home, have divorced parents, have parents who are undocumented, or may be undocumented themselves, just to name a few examples. NerdScholar’s recently released FAFSA Guide is meant to help these students complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and be a step closer to financing their education.
The non-traditional family in America may be the new norm but the FAFSA has not kept up to pace, dumping convoluted government paperwork on top of students who already face a daunting uphill battle to attain their education.
An estimated 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools each year. Although by law these students receive a public school education up until the twelfth grade, their futures beyond high school are uncertain. Not only are students unable to pursue a college degree due to financial or legal restraints, some have parents who are immigrants or undocumented students themselves.
Read Related: Financing Your Child’s College Education
The FAFSA is an enormous barrier for undocumented students as well as students with undocumented parents. Even though undocumented students cannot access federal financial aid funds, many universities require that all students applying for aid fill out the FAFSA anyway, so that the university has a standardized report of each student’s financial situation and can calculate an expected family contribution number (EFC) to determine aid packages. Unfortunately, many undocumented students and parents are afraid of putting their information into the federal government’s hands, and so many undocumented students do not apply for aid at all as a result.
As we get closer to the June 30 FAFSA federal deadlines, these students will need help with their financial aid forms. This new FAFSA guide will help students with nontraditional families navigate the FAFSA, and give step-by-step instructions for undocumented immigrants as well as documented students with undocumented parents.
First-year college students who apply for financial aid are 72% more likely to stay in school than those who are eligible but do not apply. NerdScholar seeks to empower and enable these students with its new FAFSA Guide.
Divya Raghavan is a Strategy Analyst at NerdScholar, dedicated to empower students with financial literacy tools and scholarships for Hispanics.