University Guide for Undocumented Students

If I’m undocumented, what are my rights around going to college? 

Thanks to the bravery and work of a group of students in Santa Fe, SB 582 was passed in 2005.  This law guarantees the right for undocumented students to attend public universities or colleges and receive in-state financial aid.  SB 582 prohibits universities from denying admission or benefits to undocumented students.  It also allows any resident of New Mexico the same access to state financial aid and tuition regardless of immigration status.  This includes access to the Success Grant and Lottery Scholarship.  As a New Mexico state law, SB 582 does not guarantee the right to financial aid from the federal government, only financial aid from the state. 

What do I have to do to exercise my rights under SB 582? 

To exercise your rights under SB 582 and have access to the university as an undocumented student:

•       You must have attended high school in New Mexico for 2 years and 

•       You must graduate from high school or receive your GED in New Mexico

You also have to be ready to work hard and fight for your rights. Unfortunately, there are uninformed people inside the universities that continue to deny undocumented students their rights.  So, it’s very important to begin the application process early and get involved in groups like the New Mexico Dream Team and Partnership for Community Action.

What does an undocumented student have to do to get financial aid for college?

1. Fill out a paper version of the FAFSA 

You must fill out a paper version (not an electronic version) of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the FAFSA.  Here, it is important to give true information because giving false information or information from someone else is not only unnecessary, it can also affect your future by creating legal problems.  When in doubt, ask for help from someone you trust. 


  • When applying for financial aid for UNM, keep in mind that they familiarize with the paper FAFSA, but it has nothing to do with the online FAFSA.
  • When applying for financial aid for CNM, keep in mind that you can still fill out a FAFSA form, but CNM generally asks that students fill out a General Scholars Application in place of the FAFSA.

 2. Turn it in to a Trusted Financial Aid Officer or Academic Advisor

Upon completing the FAFSA, personally hand it to a trusted financial aid officer or academic adviser at the university where you are applying.  This person can submit it into their system and make sure it gets done correctly. 

Where can I go for a trusted financial aid person?

UNM El Centro de la Raza: (505) 277-5020

  • Armando Bustamante
  • Alejandro Mendiaz-Rivera

UNM College Enrichment Program (505) 277-5321

  • Celestina Torres

Certain people in Admissions, Scholarships, & Financial Aid in UNM and CNM

  • UNM: Elizabeth Jacquez-Amador
  • CNM: Nancy Valenzuela  
  • CNM: Eric-Christopher Garcia

What do I do if I’m a resident or a citizen but my parents are undocumented? 

All students who are permanent residents or citizens have the right to state and federal financial aid for college regardless of the immigration status of their parents.  These students have their own social security number, which should not be confused with the tax ID number or TIN.  If you have any doubt about your social security number, talk to an immigration attorney.  Students that are permanent residents or citizens should fill out the electronic FAFSA.  In the part where it asks for the social security number for an undocumented parent, enter 000-00-0000.

If I’m undocumented, should I register for the Selective Service? 

It is recommended that you do.  All male, US residents of any immigration status must register with the Selective Service when they turn 18 years old.  The purpose of this is to have soldiers in case of a military draft.  If you are an 18-year-old man that has not registered, when you enroll in college the Selective Service will send you a letter reminding you of your obligation.  Remember that it is important to give correct information in this type of form. 

Note: Registering for the Selective Service protects undocumented males for future U.S citizenship and other government benefits and programs.

Do I tell my teachers and counselors if I’m undocumented? 

In school and in College, sharing information about your immigration status openly can result in discrimination.  NEVER share information about your status, nor that of your family, with people that are not trustworthy.  Apart from having good intentions and your welfare in mind, trustworthy people also understand the consequences of sharing this type of information publicly and they will always respect your right to privacy.  You are the best person to decide who to trust.  To be sure you should also find different and more general terms of expressing your immigration status. 

What do I do if someone gives me advice that could affect my immigration status?

The truth is that no one but an immigration attorney can give you exact information about your immigration situation.  Many people that don’t understand how complicated the system is can give you bad advice with the best of intentions.  To be sure, it’s best to talk to an attorney or representative from the Mexican Consulate or the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC) if you have any doubts. 

If my immigration status doesn’t let me work, why should I even go to college? 

Many undocumented students have decided to continue their studies, hoping that the federal government will pass a comprehensive or partial legalization (like the DREAM Act) that would allow them to regularize their status and be able to work when they graduate from college.  Besides this, in the unfortunate event that you get deported, a college degree can open many opportunities for you in another country.   

Top 5 Things to Know about President Trump’s Announcement to End DACA

On September 5, 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on behalf of the entire Trump Administration, announced an end to the DACA program. Here are the top 5 things to know about his announcement:

  1. Your DACA is valid until its expiration date.
    DACA and work permits (Employment Authorization Documents) will remain valid until its expiration date. To determine when your DACA and work permit expires, look at your I-795 Approval Notice and the bottom of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
  2. No new DACA applications will be accepted.
    United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) no longer will accept or process first-time applications after September 5, 2017.
  3. DACA issuances and work permits expiring between now and March 5, 2018 must be submitted for renewal by October 5, 2017. 
    If you have a permit that will expire between now and March 5, 2018, you must apply for a two-year renewal of your DACA by October 5, 2017.
  4. Advance Parole to travel abroad is no longer available.
    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will no longer grant DACA recipients permission to travel abroad through Advance Parole. Any pending applications for advance parole will not be processed and DHS will refund any associated fees.
  5. We are united in this fight. 
    You are not alone. We mobilized, organized, and marched five years ago for DACA, and we will continue to do everything in our power to protect immigrant youth and their families across the country. Visit for resources to help you and your loved ones take care of yourselves in this difficult time as well as information on what you can do to take action now.