Here are some FAQs related to education and DACA.
Q: I am undocumented, how do I pay for my education?
A: In addition to the scholarship opportunities we feature on our blog, also check out my experience and advice on state and institutional financial aid, fundraising, and more.
Q: Can I go to graduate school as an undocumented student?
A: Yes and yes! Just keep in mind that there are certain challenges that need to be overcome. Although it is challenging to pursue a graduate education as an undocumented student, many of us have enrolled in graduate programs across the country. Check out this webinar to get you started with the graduate school application process. Also check out the inspirational stories and pieces of advice written by fellow undocumented graduate students. And don’t forget to join our growing network of prospective, current, and former undocumented graduate students.
Q: Can I apply for DACA even though I’m still in high school/haven’t graduated yet?
A: Yes. One of the requirements for DACA is to be 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. If you meet all the other 6 requirements and are still completing high school, you can apply for DACA. You can find more information about this requirement from the USCIS official site.
Q: I graduated from high school or have a GED, but I’m no longer in school, can I apply for DACA?
A: Yes. Even if you’re not currently in school, you would still be meeting the education requirement by having obtained a GED or high school diploma. If you meet all the other 6 requirements, you can apply for DACA. Check the USCIS link for more info on the remaining requirements to qualify for DACA.
Q: I can’t afford my DACA application, how can I get help?
A: Make sure to subscribe to our blog, we feature scholarship opportunities open to undocumented students, including those that are specifically for DACA applications. You can also contact local pro-immigrant organizations in your area to find out if there are any private scholarships available. You should also consider starting a fundraiser. You can sell some type of food (e.g. tamales, posole, cupcakes), crafts you know how to make or can learn how to make (e.g. pins, bracelets, beanies, scarves), or set-up a donation link via sites such as You Caring and spread the word to friends, family, and the community. The extent to which you fundraise and spread the word may be limited of course by resources, time, money, and contacts… BUT if you can- it never hurts to fundraise. Feel free to contact us if you need help spreading the word about your fundraiser.
Last, but not least, there are limited circumstances under which one may qualify and receive a DACA fee exemption. Here is the official USCIS link with more info about requirements and applying for a fee exemption:“Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Fee Exemption”.
Q: Should I get a lawyer to fill out/submit/renew my DACA?
A: First we should point out that we cannot give any legal advice regarding this issue. Below is one perspective regarding this matter.
The short answer is that it depends. The long answer: it’s an impossible question to answer here given that every case is different, thus every decision of getting a lawyer (or not) will vary. You may want to explore your options and familiarize yourself with the DACA application forms. Read through the instructions and try to fill out the application by yourself and/or with help from organizers, friends, and family members. If your application has any red flags or spaces left blank that you’re unsure about, ask for help. Search engines and friends who are involved are a good resource. There might also be some inexpensive options if you ask/search around.
Also keep in mind that your case may be more complex than you may think. Because the law is complex, even if you feel confident about your application, there may be specific facts about your own case that can ultimately affect the outcome. Only a qualified and competent immigration attorney would be able to assist you. Personally, the first time I applied for DACA I did not want to take any chances so I hired an attorney. However, I did not feel it was necessary to do so when I renewed my DACA. But of course your situation may be different.
There are lawyers charging low-cost fees to review your application. That is, you fill out the application and before you send it, you have the lawyer review it. They will then make suggestions or tell you it’s all good to send. Prices for this service range and not all lawyers do this, but I have heard of some lawyers charging $25, $50, $75 to review DACA applications. Again, it depends on the lawyer.
Q. Do I have to transfer my credit history to my new SSN if I previously used an ITIN?
A: Yes. After getting approved for DACA, you have to apply to get a SSN: “Social Security Number and Card- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”. Once you have applied and received your SSN, you can now transfer any credit history to your new SSN. For example, it might have been the case that in the past you had an ITIN to file taxes. Now, because you have a SSN, you can’t use both an ITIN and a SSN, everything will now be under your SSN. It is important to transfer your credit history from your ITIN to your SSN though AND to rescind your ITIN. More details on how to complete this step, including letters to send, addresses, copies, and more, can be found here: “Life After DACA: Obtaining a Social Security Number, Transferring your Credit History, and Rescinding your ITIN”
Q: Given that I am currently married and/or have children whom I could petition under for legal permanent residency, can I still apply for DACA?
A: Yes, you can still apply for DACA if you meet all seven requirements. Having children and/or being married will not affect your DACA application. The benefits of applying to DACA include being able to receive a work authorization and relief from deportation for 2 years, after which point you can renew your DACA. If you have a path to legal permanent residency and/or citizenship right now, it’d be best to apply for that. However, for multiple reasons, you may not be able to do so quite yet. In that case, it may not hurt to apply for DACA in the meantime.
Q: Is Deferred Action (DACA) the Federal DREAM Act?
A: No. DACA and the Federal DREAM Act are different. DACA was announced on June 15, 2012 by the Obama Administration. Through DACA, individuals who qualify and are approved, can receive temporary work authorization and relief from deportation. USCIS began accepting applications on August 15, 2012. The Federal DREAM Act is legislation first introduced in 2001. If passed, the Federal DREAM Act would offer a path to citizenship to individuals who meet several requirements. The requirements with each version of the Federal DREAM Act vary, but are similar to the requirements of DACA. However, the Federal DREAM Act has not passed.