Mixed-status family students are students that are either: 1) undocumented, but have family members that are U.S. residents or U.S. citizens or 2) are U.S. residents or U.S. citizens but have family members that are undocumented.
Eligibility for federal services
Citizen students with undocumented parents can qualify for most forms of federal financial assistance. To discuss eligibility, contact the Office of Financial Aid.
Citizens are eligible for services to maintain well-being. These programs usually refer to food stamps, Medicaid, TANF, housing assistance and SSI benefits.
Non-citizens’ eligibility for services depends on their status and on the source of funding.
Undocumented immigrants are barred from access to any means-tested benefits, but can receive emergency medical assistance that includes medical assistance during pregnancy.
Lawful immigrants are generally restricted from participating in federally-funded means-tested benefits for the first 5 years of their legal status. During this time, assistance may be available through some states’ programs or limited private sector programs by nonprofit or faith organizations.
Refugees, asylees, and some victims of domestic abuse will qualify for more generous federal and state programs than the undocumented and some legal permanent residents.
Issues mixed-status families face
Confusion over eligibility rules leads to a reduction in benefit use.
Eligibility depends on the status of the person receiving benefits (e.g. a child, but not the parent). However, confusion and fear regarding eligibility rules has caused a reduction in benefit use.
In mixed-status families, there is reluctance to seek benefits even for those who are eligible.
Many families with non-citizen members fear interaction with government officials.
Many families also worry about being perceived as a “public charge.” These situations results in a “chilling effect” in which eligible members do not receive the benefits to which they are entitled.
The unequal status of family members may cause tensions/divisions
Although part of the same family, one sibling may have access to resources another does not or one parent may have access to resources another does not.
Although both citizens, a child in one family may have greater access to resources than a child in another family due to the status of the parents.