Key Criteria for Undocumented Student Higher Education Access
One in every 50 students enrolled in U.S. higher education is undocumented. Yet, many undocumented students face barriers in the form of federal and state policies that inhibit accessing and obtaining a college degree. This includes state policies restricting these students from enrolling in higher education institutions; accessing in-state tuition, state financial aid, professional and commercial licenses, driver’s licenses, state health care, food and housing assistance; and difficulties obtaining work authorization and employment — not to mention being under constant threat of deportation. Undocumented students, including DACA recipients, are also ineligible for federal financial aid.
With that in mind, Ed Trust researchers analyzed nine criteria in the 15 states with the largest shares of undocumented college students — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington — to determine whether state policies are helping or hurting undocumented students’ ability to attend college and how access and success for this underserved student population could be improved.
To complement this report, we have also created The Higher Education Access and Success tool, an interactive resource designed to provide state and federal policymakers, advocates, educators, and others with detailed information about state policies on college access and success for undocumented students. The tool displays information for the nine criteria in those 15 states with the largest shares of undocumented college students.
State policies for all nine criteria are categorized by the amount of access they provide for undocumented students in higher education. See “Defining Level of Access” below to view how categories are defined. Also note that the term “all undocumented students” refers to both DACA recipients and those without DACA.