Paying for College

Admissions & FinAid Benefits of a Green Card

Question: Does having a green card ( not a US citizen ) result in any reduction in college fee or does it increase the chances of getting financial aid?

Are green card holders eligible of the US Federal Financial Aid?

Having a green card makes a huge difference. For starters, green-card holders (i.e., official U.S. Permanent Residents) DO qualify for Federal financial aid.

So, as a result, colleges that are “need-conscious” (which is the majority of schools) are more likely to admit a Permanent Resident who is seeking financial aid than they are to admit an applicant who needs financial assistance but who will NOT qualify for government help. (Need-conscious colleges are those that take an applicant’s financial requirements into consideration when making admission decisions.)  When a student requires financial aid but doesn’t qualify for Federal aid, the college must provide funds out of its own coffers. But when the student holds a green card, Uncle Sam can kick in. So it’s a budget-wise decision for admission officials to favor Permanent Residents over non-citizen applicants who don’t have green cards.

The college tuition itself is usually reduced when a Permanent Resident is applying to a public college university within his or her own state or to a school in a nearby state that offers in-state costs to its “neighbors.”  (Some colleges, however, offer in-state prices to residents who do nothold green cards but who can prove that they have resided in that state for at least a year.)  At private colleges and at most out-of-state public ones, the cost to green-card holders remains the same as the cost to all domestic and international students, but the options for receiving financial aid—and even for admission itself—are greatly improved.

So, for a non-citizen college applicant, holding a green card is even better than holding a Get Out of Jail Free card in a Monopoly game!