Graduate Scholarships for DACA Students

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Can DACA Students Get Scholarships?

If you are a DACA grad student, there are potential scholarships available with varying eligibility requirements. Some Graduate Scholarships for DACA Students may not have citizenship prerequisites and could be open to Undocumented or Eligible Non-Citizens (as defined by FAFSA). 

Scholarships for DACA grad students vary in dollar amounts. Some may offset the cost of tuition and fees. While others may cover expenses like food, insurance, books and travel. 

Unlike a loan, scholarships usually don’t require repayment if you fulfill their terms, and a substantial scholarship could help you cover the expenses of pursuing a master’s degree or PhD. 

To be able to apply for a scholarship as a DACA grad student, you need to meet the criteria. These vary from each college and grad schools as well as from each state and local source.

9 Common Criteria for Scholarships that DACA Graduate Students May Need

As a DACA student, your status may not be the only thing you need to show. When you apply for a scholarship, you may need some (or all) of the these to qualify. 

  • Grades – GPA range
  • Leadership skills
  • Volunteer service 
  • Goal to pursue a master’s degree or PhD in a certain field 
  • Membership in an association
  • Strong writing skills 
  • Work history related to your major 
  • Being a resident of a certain state 
  • Financial need  

3 Types of Scholarships for DACA Graduate Students

There are three main kinds of grad scholarships for DACA students. Need based, merit based and contest scholarships. 

Need based scholarships assess financial need. They may still look at a student from all sides. But preferred students will show a desire to go to grad school but also a lack of money.  

Merit scholarships may place more weight on your academic achievement or talent. They may also look at your volunteer service background.  

Contests are another way for DACA students to fund grad school. These often ask you to sign up by making an account. You might enter a few at once to improve your odds. 

One example is ScholarshipPoints. Applicants complete a student profile which asks for name, email, birthday and grade level. This is all you have to do to enter for the $2,500 prize.     

Winning a scholarship contest may help with costs related to getting your grad degree. But, they may not be enough to pay the entire tuition bill.  

As an example, the Get Schooled No Essay Scholarship is a $2,000 award.  

If this is the case, you may need to also get a small loan. Luckily, as a DACA grad student there are borrowers to turn to. MPower Financing is one such option. 

Why Consider Graduate Scholarships for DACA Students? 

About 690,000 people have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status. The average age of “Dreamers” enrolled in DACA is 24 year. About a quarter (24%) are ages 26 to 30, while one in ten (11%) are ages 31 to 36.  

Almost half (45%) of current DACA recipients live in two states: California (29%) and Texas (16%). Illinois (5%), New York (5%), Florida (4%) and Arizona (4%) also have pretty big DACA populations. 

Without scholarships, DACA students may have a hard time being able to pay for grad school. These students do not qualify for federal aid or loans. But scholarships may be easier to find in some states than others. 

There are at least 19 states where DACA students may receive in state tuition. Of these, only some states offer state grants to these students. Those states are California, Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington 

Other states make these students pay the same tuition as an international student. These are Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia. Dreamers in these locations cannot access in state tuition. 

12 Scholarships for DACA Graduate Students for 2023

Are you a DACA student who wants to go to grad school? You may be eligible for state or school financial aid and private scholarships. To get started, check out these 11 scholarships for DACA grad students for 2023.

Dream.US National Scholarship

Undocumented immigrant students under 16 can apply for the Dream.US National Scholarship. It offers up to $33,000 for a bachelor’s degree and is open to those with or without DACA or TPS status. Don’t miss this chance to pursue higher education!

Amount: awards worth up to $8,250
Deadline: February 2024
Requirements: High school seniors and college underclassmen with a minimum GPA of 2.5. Other categories include low-income and immigrant students.  

Dream.US Opportunity Scholarship

Undocumented immigrant students, arrived before 16, may be eligible for the Dream.US Opportunity Scholarship! Open to high school seniors/graduates in locked-out states, offering up to $80,000 for a bachelor’s degree at Opportunity Partner Colleges. Apply now!

Amount: awards worth up to $20,000
Deadline: January 2024
Requirements: High school seniors & college freshmen in specific states with DACA status, minimum GPA of 2.8, low income, and immigrants. States: AL, AK, AR, GA, ID, IN, IA, LA, ME, MA, MS, MO, NH, NC, ND, OH, SC, SD, WV, WI. 

National Association of Hispanic Journalist Scholarships

The NAHJ supports professional growth of Hispanics in the news industry. NAHJ scholarship opportunities range from $1,500 to $10,000. They are open to both undergrad and grad students.   

Amount: $1,500 – $10,000
Deadline: February
Requirements: To be eligible, one must be going to school in the United States and Puerto Rico. Preferred applicants also have at least a 3.0 GPA. Preferred career paths are English or Spanish language print, broadcast, digital or photo journalism. 

Maria Elina Salinas Scholarship – $2,500   

Students applying for this scholarship must submit their essay in Spanish. Preferred applicants must show a strong intent to become a Spanish language journalist. 

eQuality Nursing Scholarships 

Each year, eQuality Scholarship Collaborative awards scholarships. In the year 2023, scholarships are being offered to four categories of students, each with unique eligibility criteria. If you have any doubts about your eligibility, feel free to reach out to them via email before proceeding with the application process or deciding against applying. 

Amount: $6,000
Deadline: Scholarship will resume in the fall
Requirements: Applicants must be a resident of northern or central CA. But may study in other places (there’s a list of approved sites). They must also be enrolled by the interview date and in good standing. Master’s programs with a BA/BS in a field other than nursing are eligible. RN re entry and RN to BSN or MSN programs are not eligible. 

Simplr AI and Technology Scholarship

Simplr is a Silicon Valley start-up involved in machine learning and AI. They offer a $7,500 scholarship award as a way to give back to the community.  

Amount: $7,500
Deadline: December 31
Requirements: Applicants can be pursuing an undergrad or grad degree in an accepted major. Computer Science (CS), Math, IT. Or is attending or will attend law school. Criteria include merit and financial need. Applicants must submit a winning essay showing their passion for one of a few topics. AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), Block chain tech and Intellectual Property (IP) law.    

MPower Global Citizen Scholarship 

The MPOWER Global Citizen Scholarships are available through MPower Financing. These scholarships support DACA and international students at partner schools.  

The scholarship is open to all international and DACA students, regardless of whether they are MPOWER borrowers, and aims to support the diverse experiences of international students. 

Amount: $10,000
Deadline: October 31, 2023
Requirements: You do not need to be a borrower to apply. The form asks prompted questions about goals and education history and includes a longer essay. 

MPower Women in STEM Scholarship 

The Women in STEM Scholarship is available to those planning to study STEM in the U.S. or Canada with legal permission to do so. This scholarship, offered by MPOWER Financing, aims to support women in STEM by providing up to $6,000 annually to help reduce financial barriers to international education. 

Amount: $6,000
Deadline: January 15, 2024
Requirements: College and graduate students with DACA status, particularly women, pursuing degrees in computer science, education, engineering, electrical engineering, biology, math, or healthcare are eligible for the scholarship.  

Prospanica Foundation Scholarships  

If you are a Hispanic/Latino student enrolled in a U.S. undergraduate or graduate business program, consider applying for the Prospanica Foundation Scholarships! Each year, eligible applicants who are Prospanica members can receive awards of up to $5,000. The scholarships have different criteria and award amounts, so check the FAQ for more details. Prospanica is a business-oriented organization dedicated to empowering and enabling Hispanic professionals to reach their educational and career goals. If you support their mission and need financial assistance for your education, we encourage you to apply! 

Amount: awards worth up to $5,000
Deadline: April 2024
Requirements: College students of Hispanic/Latino heritage, who are US Citizens, Permanent Residents, or DACA recipients, with a minimum GPA of 2.8, and pursuing an academic interest in Business are eligible for the Prospanica Foundation Scholarships. 

Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship

The Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship is available for academically outstanding students pursuing a research-based Ph.D. or Sc.D. program in the U.S., with a career goal in teaching and research at the university level. The fellowship, offered by The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, grants $9,000 awards to support graduate studies for aspiring educators passionate about teaching. 

Amount: $9,000
Deadline: December 2023 
Requirements: Graduate students with an academic interest in Education or Social Science and holding US citizenship, Permanent Resident status, or DACA are eligible for this scholarship.

Davis Putter Scholarship 

The Davis Putter Scholarship Fund aids those who work to advance social and economic justice. The largest grant is $15,000 per year.   

A complete application includes a 1000 word essay that details progressive social activity. You must also provide two letters of recommendation, transcripts and show financial need.  

Amount: up to $15,000
Deadline: April 1
Requirements: Preferred applicants to these need based scholarships are student activists. Recent awards went to students active in efforts against racism, sexism, and homophobia. To apply, you need to be a current grad student or enrolled in a trade or technical program.  

American Hotel and Lodging Educational Foundation Scholarships 

AHLEF presents a range of scholarship opportunities annually, with a total of nine programs. These scholarships offer generous values, some up to $7,500. The recipients are students who are currently pursuing bachelor’s or graduate degrees in hospitality-related fields. For the upcoming year, AHLEF has allocated $1.3 million in scholarships, benefiting over 100 deserving recipients. 

Amount: Varies
Deadline: The application process for the 2023-2024 batch is now closed. Stay tuned as applications for the 2024-2025 academic year will open later this fall.  
Requirements: Preferred applicants have strong grades, financial need, and relevant work history.  

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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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