Answer: This is a sticky situation for this student. She’s not technically covered by FERPA if she’s just talking to a college representative.  That means that although the college representative shouldn’t call the authorities, there’s no assurance they won’t or can’t. I think the student probably just has to gauge the person’s level of hostility or understanding.  Maybe she could ask a couple of open-ended questions without saying anything about herself, like, “Are there any clubs here that advocate for immigrants?” or, “Are there activities for foreign students?” The person’s answers and body language responding to those questions probably will say a lot about whether it’s a safe environment.

The best approach may be to talk to them without saying anything about her immigration status at all. She’s not eligible for in-state tuition or any state financial aid in your state, and of course no federal financial aid, so she doesn’t even need to ask about that and have them tell her no.

You might also consider exploring–especially since she’s been in the United States for so long–whether she had DACA. She can renew that status if it’s been granted to her in the past. We have some information in English and Spanish on our website.

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