Rewards and responsibilties for DACA beneficiaries

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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in many cases provides previously undocumented youth with work authorization and a valid social security number for the first time.  Although work authorization and a valid social security number open access to a number of additional benefits most usually associated with lawful immigration status, a number of benefits are still barred for DACA beneficiaries. This is in part because of the type of status that DACA provides. “Deferred action,” rather than providing lawful immigration status, means that any action to initiate removal proceedings is being deferred. Below are some of the obligations and restrictions to accessing benefits common to DACA recipients.  

Financial Aid

Some states, including Illinois provide for in-state tuition at state universities or institutions for undocumented students (a list of those states that provide in-state tuition for unauthorized immigrants is available).  Some states may specifically allow DACA deferred action beneficiaries in-state tuition rates.  However, even with in-state tuition rates, there remains the question of accessing financial aid to pay for college. Only certain categories of non-citizens are eligible for federal financial aid (grants and loans).  However DACA deferred action recipients may wish to complete the FAFSA form as certain institutions may require it for consideration for private scholarships. Not all educational institutions require a FAFSA form to be considered for private scholarships. Inquire with the institution you are interested in attending about the process. Some institutions may require the FAFSA form. If completing the FAFSA form, it is important to provide the correct social security number and answer the question “Are you a U.S. citizen?” by stating “No, I am not a citizen or eligible noncitizen.”  Even though not eligible for federal financial aid, DACA deferred action recipients may be eligible for state or college aid.  Completing the FAFSA form will help with this determination. The Department of Education on Financial Aid and Undocumented Students has developed a Fact Sheet  with additional information.

Health Insurance (Affordable Care Act)

Eligibility for the Affordable Care Act is in part tied to immigration status.  Under the law, individuals who meet the definition of being “lawfully present” are eligible.  While those with “deferred action” status were included in the definition of “lawfully present,” in August of 2013, a new rule was issued specifically excluding those granted “deferred action” under the DACA program from eligibility.  For an overview of health care benefits for DACA deferred action beneficiaries, go to the National Immigration Law Center website.  Undocumented individuals are eligible to access health services through a federally qualified health center.  The US Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources & Service Administration also maintains a database of low-cost health service providers by location, nationwide.  

Selective Service Registration Requirement

Most male persons residing in the United States from age 18 through 25 are required to register with the selective service regardless of immigration status.  Go to the Selective Service website to find out more about the specific requirements. 

Failure to register for selective service can result in a denial of other federal benefits, including eligibility for financial aid.

Social Security Number

DACA beneficiaries can obtain a valid social security number once approved and granted a work permit under the program.  DACA beneficiaries who have previously used a different social security number and have questions about how to correct this information with an employer or the Social Security Administration should consult with an attorney.  For more information see E4FC's DACA guide and Flier.


Individuals who are not eligible for a Social Security Number may obtain an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) from the IRS. 

Some DACA deferred action beneficiaries may have previously filed income tax returns using ITINs.  Now with a valid social security number, you may wish to update your IRS records with your valid social security number.

For assistance, you may want to contact the Center for Economic Progress.


In Illinois, individuals with a valid social security number are eligible to apply for a driver’s license or state ID.  DACA deferred action beneficiaries can apply for a driver’s license or State ID. For more information and to find out the requirements visit the Illinois Secretary of State Website or call 1-800-252-8980. In applying for a driver’s license or state ID, you will be asked whether you want to register to vote. DO NOT REGISTER TO VOTE.   The card you will sign registering to vote contains a statement declaring you are a US citizen.  False claims to US citizenship—whether knowing or not—can result in removal proceedings and bar lawful permanent status.

Prepared by DePaul University Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic in Connection with the Chicago DACA Collaborative.