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Nonprofit Law/award scholarship to undocumented high school graduate


Our local 501c3 community foundation awards scholarships to outstanding local high school graduates for college.  We send the check to the college/university financial aid offices.

Can we award a scholarship to a high school graduate who is undocumented?  We collect social security numbers for our records.

There is no federal law prohibiting a 501(c)(3) organization from assisting persons who are considered by  US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to not be in the United States in legal status (so-called "undocumented" persons).  The IRS does prohibit 501(c)(3) organizations from acting against what is called public policy, such as acting in a racially discriminatory matter, but, because college and universities are allowed to admit persons who are undocumented, it is not considered the your organization would be materially and substantially acting to foster illegal immigration activities and, therefore, the IRS would not hold it against your organization if you give such scholarships.

Harvey Mechanic
Attorney at Law

P.S. This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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Harvey Mechanic


I am an attorney and I volunteer time to answer general questions about U.S. Federal income tax issues of nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charities only. Those questions could be about establishing and maintaining legal requirements for such non-profit organizations in the United States, including Internal Revenue service filings and requirements. I will not be working on this free forum to answer questions about Nonprofit's possible unrelated or for-profit businesses or how to fill out forms. This forum is only for general questions about federal tax law, not as the law applies to your specific situation. If you do not make your question public then I will not be spending much of my donated time on answers that would not benefit the public. If you have other questions, please contact me at I will reply from my email. In any case, do not reveal confidential information to me until after I have contracted with you to provide personal legal services. My responses on this forum are intended to be general statements of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice, and do not create an attorney/client relationship. For me to consider your individual situation and how the law applies, I would need to gather extensive information about the situation. To search my previous answers you can do a Google search by "" without the quotes and then add your search terms before hitting enter.


I have been practicing law and especially the law of nonprofit organizations since 1990 when I was admitted to the New York Bar and I have maintained my status with the Bar since that time.


B.S. Columbia University in New York City, 1970

J.D. (Law Degree) Brooklyn Law School, 1990 -- Cum Laude.

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