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State Data

Higher education in the U.S. benefits from the participation of immigrant and international students. First and second-generation individuals comprise 28% of all students enrolled in higher education, a growing figure that underscores the importance of immigrant-origin students in the classroom and our workforce.

All Students in Higher Education in Arizona582,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students37,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students75,000
International Students22,548

Note: First-generation immigrants were born abroad and immigrated to the U.S. Second-generation immigrants are U.S.-born individuals with at least one immigrant parent. First-generation immigrants include undocumented immigrants. First-generation immigrants do not include international students on a visa.

The U.S. is home to more than 427,000 undocumented students enrolled in higher education. In their pursuit of higher education, undocumented students actively ready themselves to fill critical skill shortages and become better positioned to support their families, communities, and the U.S. economy.

Undocumented Students in Higher Education9,480
Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year2,000

Note: Undocumented students are a sub-group of first-generation students.

International students comprise only 5.5 percent of all students in higher education, but provide significant economic, academic and cultural contributions that enrich learning, enrollment and funding opportunities for American students.

International Students in Higher Education22,548
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$682.1 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State7,800
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants2,437

Note: Optional Practical Training participants are a subgroup of international students.

Immigrant residents, including undocumented immigrants and DACA-eligible residents, play an important role in the state's economy, contributing spending power and paying federal, state, and local taxes.

All Immigrant Residents in Arizona972,110
Immigrant Share of Total Population13.4%
Undocumented Immigrants in State247,528
DACA-Eligible Residents in State36,909
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents$617.9 million
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions$93.6 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions$87.3 million

Note: DACA-eligible residents are a sub-group of undocumented immigrant residents.

Higher education helps prepare all students, including immigrant and international students, to fill critical career and skills needs.

State Immigrant Workers Fill Critical Skills Needs
Share of STEM Workers Who Are First-Generation Immigrants20.1%
Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants13%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants24.7%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools15,315

Note: First-generation immigrants were born abroad and immigrated to the U.S.

You can find additional state data, including by congressional district, in the following resources by immigrant population (NAE) and international students (NAFSA).

State Policies

Evaluating Access for Undocumented Students

State policies in four key areas – in state tuition, state financial aid, professional and occupational licensure, and driver licenses – play an important role in expanding access to higher education and workforce development for undocumented students.

  • In-State Tuition & State Financial Aid Access and Affordability

    Limited: Policies provide the state’s undocumented students, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state or reduced tuition in at least some public institutions.

  • Professional & Occupational Licensure Workforce Entry & Eligibility

    No State Policy: No policies identified that actively expand access to occupational licensure for individuals who do not have legal immigration status.

  • Driver Licenses & Identification Mobility

    Restrictive: Policies do not provide the state's undocumented residents with access to driver licenses and state identification, but DACA recipients can still obtain a driver's license or state identification card.

Enacted Policies

Arizona provides eligible undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, with access to a non-resident tuition rate at 150% above the in-state tuition rate.

Arizona does not provide undocumented residents with access to state financial aid, professional and occupational licensure, driver licenses and state identification.

In-State Tuition

Arizona Board of Regents’ Policy 4-202 provides eligible undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, with access to a non-resident tuition rate at 150% above the in-state tuition rate. To qualify, students must attend an Arizona high school for at least three years, graduate from an Arizona high school or attain the equivalent, and not be eligible for in-state tuition.

Arizona Proposition 300, approved on November 7, 2006, prohibits undocumented students from accessing standard in-state tuition at the state’s public colleges and universities.

The Arizona State Legislature passed a bill on May 10, 2021 placing a ballot initiative in the 2022 elections to reform Proposition 300 to expand access to in-state tuition and potentially state financial aid to the state’s undocumented students. The bill, Senate Concurrent Resolution (S.C.R.) 1044, passed the Arizona State Senate on March 4, 2021, by a bipartisan 17 to 13 vote. It passed a final reading in the State House by a bipartisan 33 to 27 vote. If approved by Arizona voters, the ballot proposition would expand access to in-state tuition to undocumented students if they meet certain requirements, including being physically present in Arizona for at least two years and graduating from an Arizona high school.

Additional Background

The Arizona Board of Regents Policy 4-202 was implemented in 2015 to permit only Arizona high school graduates with lawful presence in the U.S., such as DACA recipients, to pay a 150% non-resident tuition rate if they were not eligible for in-state tuition. In September 2019, the Arizona Board of Regents expanded Policy 4-202 to allow the state’s undocumented students without DACA to access the 150% non-resident tuition rate.

The Arizona Board of Regents permitted DACA recipients to access standard in-state tuition from 2015 until April 2018, when an Arizona Supreme Court decision blocked Maricopa County Community College from granting in-state tuition to DACA recipients. The Arizona Board of Regents issued a statement after the decision noting it would “no longer interpret its policies to offer in-state tuition to DACA students.”

State Financial Aid

Arizona Proposition 300 prohibits the state’s undocumented students, including DACA recipients, from accessing state financial aid.

Additional Financial Aid

TheDream.US is a national organization that offers scholarships to DACA and undocumented students attending eligible postsecondary institutions across the country. In Arizona, the following institutions are TheDream.US Partner Colleges:

  • Arizona State University;
  • Arizona State University Online;
  • Benedictine University; and,
  • Grand Canyon University.
Professional and Occupational Licensure

Arizona does not affirmatively extend occupational and professional licensure to undocumented individuals. However, Arizona House Bill (H.B.) 2569, passed on April 10, 2019, allows reciprocity of professional licensure from out-of-state licensed professionals. More research is needed to determine whether this bill allows undocumented immigrants who have been licensed out-of-state to use their license in Arizona.

Driver Licenses

Undocumented immigrants in Arizona do not have access to a driver license or state identification card. The Arizona Department of Transportation requires non-citizens to provide an employment authorization document (EAD), an I-94 Arrival/Departure Form, or a Green Card to obtain a driver’s license.

DACA recipients in Arizona are allowed to obtain a driver license or state identification card. In August 2012, then-Governor Jan Brewer (R-AZ) instructed the DOT to stop issuing driver licenses to DACA recipients. A lawsuit filed on behalf of DACA recipients led to a federal court decision in December 2014 directing Arizona to provide DACA recipients with access to driver licenses. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal to the decision on March 19, 2018. Governor Doug Ducey (R-AZ) stated on January 23, 2019 that the state would stop appealing the ruling and provide individuals who have an EAD, including DACA recipients, with access to driver licenses and state identification.

Effective Practices and State Resources

Spotlight on effective practices and policy, research, or community-based state resources.

  • Research

    Undocumented Students in Higher Education (Updated March 2021)

    More than 427,000 undocumented students in the U.S. are enrolled in higher education, including 181,000 DACA-eligible individuals.

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  • Effective Practice

    Promising Practices: Pima Community College (Refugee Education Program)

    A program offering English language training for refugees students.

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