Can International Students Apply for Financial Aid in USA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used by US citizens and permanent residents to apply for financial aid from the US state and federal government.

Universities and colleges also use the info submitted for the FAFSA for computing need-based awards. International students do not qualify for the US government aid programs (Pell Grant, SEOG Grant, Stafford Loan, Perkins Loan, PLUS Loan, and Federal Work-Study).

However, many schools ask international students to submit a FAFSA so they could use the data for assessing financial need.

Before filing a FAFSA, international students should ask the universities to which you are applying what procedure they must use to apply for institutional aid.

Some schools may require students to produce a FAFSA as part of their application for institutional aid. However, if the international student submits a FAFSA without providing a Social Security Number (SSN) or Alien Registration Plate (ARN), the FAFSA is going to be rejected along with the information will never be processed.

Even if, the international student provides a SSN, the FAFSA is going to be rejected after they check option 3 (“No, neither of the above.”) in the answer to question 15-16 (“Are you a U.S. citizen?”).

At the moment, it looks like that there is no way out around the problem. The FAFSA is not intended to be used by schools for processing institutional aid applications submitted by international students. Only US citizens and eligible non-citizens may receive federal student financial aid.

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U.S residents have SSNs, eligible non-citizens have ARNs, and international students have neither. Based on the 1992 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965, every applicant will need to have a SNN, so that you can apply for federal student financial funding.

Since the primary purpose of the FAFSA is to apply for federal student financial aid, a FAFSA application submitted without having a social security number will be rejected.

Nevertheless, since a social security number isn’t considered evidence of US citizenship, some international students should be able to apply for one and get a social security number. (This could depend on the type of visa). If an international student receives a SNN, the social security card is stamped so that there’s no mistaking it for citizenship.

They’re able to make use of this number to complete their FAFSA application. Also, the student can also use the social security number to open a bank account or get a driver’s license.

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Every time an international student that has a social security number submits a FAFSA, they need to supply their SSN in question 8, and check option 3 (“No, neither of the above.”) in the answer to question 15-16 (“Are you a U.S. citizen?”) to show that you are not qualified to apply for federal student financial aid.

However, the FAFSA will still be rejected, as reported by a contact in the US Department of Education, the information remains in the system and can be withdrawn by the financial aid office and used to make institutional awards.

Before you apply for a social security number and filing a FAFSA, however, international students should ask the school whether they should submit a FAFSA, if so, where it must be submitted.

Many schools required to use the FAFSA for processing international student aid applications require the students to submit the FAFSA directly to the institution, and not to the federal processor. This bypasses your entire requirement for a social security number.

International students should be careful not to provide/fill out a nine-digit number in the SNN field. The FAFSA application will be processed if they do this, but it’ll be flagged for verification because the Social Security Number will not produce a positive match.

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Many schools issue student ID cards using a nine-digit identification number that matches the student’s Social Security Number. Since the Social Security Administration hasn’t issued Social Security Numbers, you can start with the I.D number 8 or 9, many schools use identification numbers beginning with those digits for international students.

For example, it’s quite common for schools to issue international students a number that begins 888 or 700. The student ID numbers usually are not social security numbers, and cannot be used on the FAFSA.

In conclusion, keep in mind that Canadian students hold a SIN number that looks very similar to the SSN. The SIN is not a social security number, and should NOT be used on the FAFSA.

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