I am a deferred action student, meaning that I apply for in-state resident tuition but I am not a US citizen (non-permanent resident). I have a work card that allows me to work like any other citizen and pay taxes accordingly. However, due to me being a non-citizen, I'm concerned that I may not be able to receive funding for PhD. My family does not have a lot of money and we spent a lot of money for my undergrad education (I don't qualify for FAFSA either) so without financial aid, I'm not able to attend graduate school. Even with my part-time job, most of my earnings went into paying for GRE and application fees.

Do university departments offer financial aid to non-citizens (but not international) as well? Most of the departments I saw state that they offer guaranteed funding through the 5th year of a student's PhD but do not explicitly say if it's available to students such as myself.

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    This might vary between universities, especially depending on public vs private status and laws in particular states. If you can't find this information on the university's website, you will probably have to contact them directly and ask. Sep 3, 2016 at 5:21
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    OP was asking how common it is to give Dreamers access to standard funding sources for grad school -- this seems like a perfectly reasonable question. Voting to reopen. Apr 1, 2018 at 21:27
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    @aparente001 - I agree this is a reasonable question, although it is disconcertingly hard to predict what the answer will be soon because of the fluctuating national policies on Dreamers. The answer in Sept. 2016 would have seemed a lot rosier than the answer now... Apr 2, 2018 at 2:40

2 Answers 2


The most common kinds of funding for PhD students in the US are research assistantships and teaching assistantships. Typically neither of these types of funding have rules about the citizenship status of the student. These types of funding would provide a DACA PhD student with tuition and a stipend for living expenses.

Some prestigious, higher paying fellowships offered by the federal government would not be available to a DACA student. For example, the NSF GRFP requires permanent residency. The NDSEG, being funded by the military, requires citizenship or national status.

On a broader note, if you cannot get financial aid including a stipend, you should not get a PhD. If the university thinks you will be a good PhD student, they will be willing to pay you. This advice does not apply to professional degrees.


It depends on what field you want to study. But, I would guess that in almost all instances, you qualify for teaching and research assistantships just as much as any other citizen. I personally know several international Ph.D students in science and engineering who are supported either by teaching assistantships or research assistantships, at many different public and private institutions across the United States. I myself am one of them! So generally I would say that the answer to the question in your title is "probably yes", but you will have to make sure in a case-by-case basis.

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    Please note that the OP is a DACA student, not an international student. There is a big difference between the two.
    – Nobody
    Sep 3, 2016 at 5:48

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