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Undocumented Applicant FAQ

What is DACA and how does it impact graduate admissions? 

The easiest way to think about DACA is that it allows those folks who are undocumented and living in the United States on a permanent basis to have a legal authorization to work. From a purely admissions standpoint, it’s not relevant. For the Clinical program, accepting an undocumented student without DACA status will require creative solutions for internship opportunities (because that student couldn’t accept a paid internship) but DACA only comes into play with funding, not on the academic side of graduate admissions.

Can students who are in the U.S. without documentation be accepted into the Psychology PhD program? 

Absolutely! In fact, we encourage our faculty to disregard documented status as a criterion for admission. An undocumented applicant without DACA status will have different funding options than the rest of our students (see below) but the decision to accept that funding lies with the applicant, not with the department.

Are students with DACA able to be funded in all the same ways as students who are U.S. citizens?

Essentially yes! While their DACA status is current, the student can accept any TA, RA, or fellowship the same as any domestic student. However, the student will need to maintain their DACA status every semester that they are funded through the program, and it does cost a lot of money to apply for a renewal of DACA status. There are a number of local organizations that offer help with financing DACA renewal fees, so please feel free to put current students/applicants in contact with the Graduate Program Coordinator if they need help figuring out what their options are.

If a student is accepted but does not have a DACA status, can they be funded, and how?

If a student is accepted without DACA status or loses their DACA status after admission, the student isn’t allowed to accept any funding that requires work. This means that an undocumented student without DACA status can only accept tuition-only funding or fellowships without any work requirement. Currently, the DFI fellowship is the only fellowship that doesn’t have any work requirements associated with it.

If an undocumented applicant reaches out, who should they contact? 

It depends. Many applicants are nervous about disclosing their undocumented status. If the applicant only feels comfortable talking to their prospective faculty mentor, it is absolutely fine for the mentor to relay their questions to the Graduate Studies Office without a name attached. If the applicant feels comfortable talking to other people, our Graduate Program Coordinator is an excellent person to start with. Each student has to make the decision for themselves if they are able to apply for DACA status, which is a very complicated set of variables. Not every undocumented applicant can apply for DACA status, and pressuring applicants to do so is highly inappropriate.

Once accepted what other on-campus resources can undocumented applicants make use of? 

That list is maintained at Santa Clara Law School also maintains a fabulous resource guide for navigating grad school as an undocumented student without DACA status.