Frequently Asked Questions & Important definitions


The Basics

1. What is the New York Dream Act?

The New York Dream Act provides undocumented students who meet the requirements, access to benefits such as in-state tuition, New York State-administered financial aid, and scholarships.

2. Is it safe to apply for the NY Dream Act?

The information provided via the NY Dream Act Application is used solely to determine eligibility for state financial aid and isn’t shared with the federal government or used for immigration enforcement purposes.

3. What do I need to apply?

  • High School Transcript or GED documentation (black out address and parents’ names)
  • Proof of Citizenship Immigration Status (You must provide your Visa, I-797, USCIS Approval Letter, Birth Certificate, Social Security Card, TIN Documentation, or I551 Permanent Resident Card or Alien Receipt Card to provide evidence for the immigration status you selected.)
  • Please note: If you are without lawful immigration status (this includes people with DACA), or if you or your parent(s) do not have an SSN or TIN, please remove your street address and/or parent name(s) from all documents before uploading.

4. How do I apply?

5. What are the requirements?

In order to be eligible for the NYS financial aid awards under the Dream Act you must meet the following requirements:

  • You have lived in the State of New York for 2+ Years
  • You are undocumented or have DACA, a U-Visa, T-Visa, or Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

AND you meet ONE of the following criteria:

  • You applied for attendance in an undergraduate program at a NYS college within five years of receiving your NYS HS diploma or HS equivalency diploma.
  • You applied for attendance in a graduate program at a NYS college within ten years of receiving your NYS HS diploma or HS equivalency diploma

{ PLEASE NOTE: if any of the information below is true for you, you do not qualify for the Dream ACT and instead, should fill out a FAFSA application to receive financial aid }

  • You are a United States Citizen, a U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident
  • Your Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) shows one of the following designations:
    • “Refugee”
    • “Asylum Granted”
    • “Cuban or Haitian Entrant”
    • “Conditional Entrant” (granted before April 1, 1980)
    • Victims of Human trafficking, T-Visa holder (T-2, T-3, or T-4, etc.)
  • You are a Refugee Resettlement Parolee (with evidence from USCIS that you are in the United States for other than a temporary purpose and intend to become a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident)
  • You are a “qualified” Battered Immigrant
  • You are a citizen of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, or Swain’s Island.


Please Note: In order to retain your funding, you will have to retain at least a 2.0/C GPA and remain in good academic standing with your university. Please check your school’s specific requirements. In addition, if you reduce your course load (for example: from full-time to part-time) you will be asked to return a prorated portion of the funds.

1. I’m currently enrolled in college. Am I still eligible?

Yes! You will be able to apply for the Dream Act regardless of whether you are currently in high school or in college. However, the financial aid you will be awarded is NOT retroactive, meaning that you will not be supported financially for the time you have already completed for your degree.

2. Can the Dream Act help cover the cost of graduate school?


3. I have DACA and have been going to school on and off, do I qualify for the NY Dream Act?


4. I’m a person who is in the process of applying for asylum or have already been granted asylum. Can I qualify for the NY Dream Act? 

No. However, once you have been granted asylum, you will qualify for TAP (Tuition Assistance Program). 

5. I’m in the process of obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJV), do I qualify for the NY Dream Act? 

Yes, you are still undocumented or without lawful status and you can submit a NY Dream Act application for financial aid. As soon as you adjust your status and get a permanent residency you will have to apply to FAFSA and TAP and can no longer apply via the NY Dream Act.

6. Can part-time students benefit from the NY Dream Act?

Yes. Once your NY Dream Act application is approved, you will be eligible to apply for the Part-Time Scholarship program and the Aid for Part-Time Study program (which is a program that your college administers using the State’s rules).

The Process

1. If I have DACA, what should I report as my immigration status?

In the first step of the application, you will be asked to report your immigration status by selecting an option from the drop down menu. If you have DACA, you should select the option which states that you are “currently without lawful immigration status” option. Even though DACA is a form of temporary immigration relief, you are still considered undocumented. 

2. If I am in the process of adjusting my status but have not received my green card yet. How should I answer the question about my current immigration status?

You should select the option that best reflects your current status, not the one you are applying for. For example, if you are undocumented and are still awaiting a green card, you would select the “without lawful status” option.

3. Will I need to provide information about my or my family’s finances?

The Dream Act application is used to determine whether you are eligible to receive funding from New York State’s existing financial aid programs. Once your Dream Act application is approved, HESC will follow up with you through your school to get more information about your finances. If you are seeking funding through Excelsior, you will need to submit a separate application for that program by August 15th which will require information about your finances.

4. What are the income requirements? 

TAP requires that your income be $80,000 or less to be eligible; the Excelsior and Enhanced Tuition Awards (ETA) programs require that your income be $125,000 or less. 

5. The Excelsior deadline is August 15th. Will they make an exception this year for those who qualify for the Dream Act?

No. In order to qualify for Excelsior, you must apply for the Dream Act and submit your Excelsior application by August 15th.

6. What happens after I submit the application? 

Once you have submitted your application and completed all the necessary documentation, you will be responsible for monitoring the status of your application on the New York DREAM Act website. 

7. How and when do I receive my funds?

Once your application is approved, your college will be notified that you are receiving a financial aid award. Your college will then defer your tuition expenses, and your award will be paid directly to the school at the end of each semester (as long as you meet the in-school requirements).


PLEASE NOTE:  If you are without lawful immigration status, or if you or your parent(s) do not have a SSN or TIN, please remove your street address and/or parent name(s) from all documents before uploading.

1. Do I need paper copies or digital copies of my documents? How do I get digital versions of these documents? 

Once you get paper copies of your documents, you can either scan them or you can take a picture of them. Next, you will upload them to your application on the website. Do not upload more than the requested documentation. Only upload the required supporting documents they ask for.  

2. What are acceptable file types? 

.pdf, .tif, .png, .jpeg, .jpg, .bmp and .xps. You may also upload multiple files as a .zip file. You cannot use a Microsoft Word document since that file format is editable.

3. How long does it take to process my uploaded documents? 

Documents should be processed within 5-7 business days, you should be monitoring your application to make sure these documents are approved.

4. The deadline has already passed and my documents are still labeled as “Processing”, what does that mean?

As long as the document is uploaded before the deadline it will be considered. You should make sure your documents are all ‘Accepted’ and that your application is ‘Complete’.

Important definitions

Immigrant: A person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.

Dreamer: Under the Description of the D.R.E.A.M. Act, a DREAMer is a person that has entered the United States before the age of 16 and has been involved in the movement.

Undocumented: A person who resides in a country without proper and legal documentation to live in that country.

DACA: A temporary work permit that was given through an executive order under Obama’s Administration in 2012 for young immigrants that came to the US before the age of 16 and before June of 2007. Folks who have DACA are still considered undocumented under immigration law, but since they can work we call them DACAmented. 

TAP (Tuition Assistance Program): A New York State-administered grant to help pay tuition at approved schools in NYS.

HESC (Higher Education Services Corporation): New York State’s higher education student financial aid agency.

TPS (Temporary protected status): Allows foreign nationals to remain in the U.S. if during the time they were in the U.S. something catastrophic happened in their country of origin preventing their safe return – for example war, famine, natural disaster, or epidemic. TPS allows people to work legally and be protected from deportation.

T-Visa: Allows the granting of lawful status to noncitizen victims of human trafficking, as well as their immediate family members, who assist in the prosecution of the trafficking. It allows people to remain and work temporarily in the U.S.

U-Visa: Allows for the granting of lawful status to noncitizen crime victims who suffered significant physical or mental abuse (and their immediate family members) who assist in the prosecution of the crime. It allows people to remain and work temporarily in the U.S.

Without Lawful Immigration Status: Living in the U.S. unlawfully either because lawful status never existed (including those with DACA status) or has ended.

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