Unique Scholarship Opportunities 

Undocumented students are not eligible to receive or participate in programs/events that are funded by state or federal grants. Further, state and federal laws prohibit Northeastern, as a state agency, from dedicating monetary funds to undocumented students. These restrictions lead to two problems: Northeastern’s undocumented students are unable to take full advantage of all the University has to offer; and more importantly, this can underscore feelings of exclusion and isolation. Compounded by financial burdens, this increases the likelihood of dropping out altogether, but, we can help. Northeastern’s Financial Aid Office strives to provide services and programs to all Northeastern students in support of their education. 100 percent of Northeastern’s talent and merit scholarships do not require U.S. citizenship. A total of $1.35 million is available to all qualified students. In addition, 96 percent of NEIU Foundation scholarships ($115,200) do not require U.S. citizenship.

Please note that beginning January 2020, the Retention of Illinois Students and Equity (RISE) Act will allow undocumented students in Illinois to apply for state financial aid. 

The Undocumented Student Project Fund

As a former undocumented student, Dr. Daniel López Jr., Vice President of Student Affairs, understands the obstacles undocumented college students face and their challenges in obtaining private funds. Established by Dr. López, the Undocumented Student Fund supports expenses such as: 

  • Programs and services for undocumented students, their families, and allies in the community to educate on challenges, opportunities, and current issues as they unfold. 
  • Emergency financial help with DACA application fees, books, supplies, and other situations.
  • Travel assistance for conferences.
  • Helping undocumented students participate in classes or co-curricular projects.

the Aspire Scholarship

The Aspire Scholarship is an endowed scholarship fund established by President Emerita Salme Harju Steinberg, Ph.D., and other generous donors as Northeastern’s answer to President Obama’s Dream Relief Policy and the State of Illinois’ state version of the Dream Act. While undocumented students are eligible to receive most scholarships within the NEIU Foundation, the Aspire Fund has been created specifically to help undocumented students. Northeastern awarded the first Aspire Scholarship in Academic Year 2014-2015.

External scholarships

The Dream US logo 
Northeastern is a proud partner of TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college access and success program for DREAMers. This scholarship provides up to $25,000 for a bachelor's degree. 

The Illinois Dream Fund

Community Services Block Grant Scholarship 

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Illinois Latino Council on Higher Education (ILACHE)

Anhelo Project Dream Scholarship

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Scholarship (CHCI) (Internships and fellowships)

Dennis De La Rosa Scholarship

United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI) (National Scholarship Directory)

Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation (ILLCF)

Fiesta del Sol Guadalupe A. Reyes Scholarship

DACA Scholars (On the App Store)

P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans (For graduate students)


While finding scholarships takes time and effort, this is only the first step. You now need to prove that you deserve the awards. Here are some helpful tips to use when applying for scholarships:

  • Visit each scholarship's website and read the requirements. Make sure that the scholarship is open to undocumented and/or DACAmented students. If you are unsure if you qualify, ask. Send an email or make a phone call to the reviewing committee ask questions. At times, scholarships that require the applicant to be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident make an exception to undocumented and/or DACAmented students, so ask!
  • Make sure you are aware of deadlines and submit your application as early as possible. If you missed a deadline for a scholarship, call the reviewing committee and ask if they allow for an extended deadline. You never know if they might just make an exception.
  • If your GPA is a bit under the requirement but you have valid reasons to back it up in your essay, apply anyway and write a strong essay explaining your situation.
  • Write a strong essay that allows the reviewing committee to know more about your life, your personal struggles, your community involvement, and your academic aspirations. Make sure your essay is free of grammatical errors, that it answers the question(s) asked in the application, and visit your school's writing support center, or have someone who is a strong writer provide feedback before you submit your scholarship applications.
  • Request letters of recommendation on a timely manner. The best letters of recommendations will come from a teacher, professor, or an employer who can speak about your academic abilities, work ethic, and your goals and aspirations. Be mindful that your recommenders are busy people who require you to request the letter at least three weeks in advance. Provide your recommender with enough information that will help them craft a strong recommendation letter. Give them a copy of the scholarship application, your résumé, your unofficial transcript, a rough draft of your essay. 
  • Become a competitive applicant. Get involved on campus through student organizations and clubs, and/or volunteer in an organization helping the community. Scholarship reviewing committees want to see that you have leadership skills and that you are committed to helping others.


On-campus jobs are not only a means of covering some of the cost of tuition, books and other expenses each semester but also a great way to make connections and gain valuable experience. Certain on-campus jobs, including Student Aide, Graduate Assistant and Extra Help, are open to all students who are enrolled at least half time and have eligibility to work in the United States. If you have been approved for DACA, you’re eligible to work in the U.S., which means, you’re eligible to apply for Student Aide and Extra Help positions. However, undocumented students are not eligible to participate in federally funded programs. So, even if you have DACA, you are not eligible for Work Study positions. If you have been approved for DACA and have questions about employment options on and off campus, please contact the Undocumented Student Resources Director at undocuresources@neiu.edu