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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 Students25,677

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 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 Education25,677
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$778.1 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State8,449
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 Immigrants20.5%
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
Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential38%

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 (AIC) and international students (NAFSA).

State Policies

Evaluating Access for Undocumented & Refugee 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. The section below on in-state tuition also includes policies related to refugee students.

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

    Accessible: Policies provide statewide access to in-state tuition for the state's undocumented students, including DACA recipients.

  • 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 in-state tuition after the passage of Proposition 308.

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


In-State Tuition

Proposition 308, projected to pass by major news organizations on November 14, 2022 by a 51 to 49 percent margin,  allows  the state’s undocumented students to access in-state tuition. The ballot proposition expands 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. The proposition will be implemented by the Arizona Board of Regents in time for the spring 2023 semester. 

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 the ballot initiative for Proposition 308 in the 2022 elections to expand access to in-state tuition and 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.

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.”

Refugee In-State Tuition: Refugee students are eligible for in-state tuition after meeting residency requirements. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15-1803 states that an alien is entitled to classification as an in-state student if the person has been granted refugee status in accordance with all applicable laws of the United States and has met all other requirements for domicile. 

State Financial Aid

Arizona Proposition 308, passed on November 6, 2022, revokes the prohibition in Proposition 300 that prevented the state’s undocumented students, including DACA recipients, from accessing state financial aid. Undocumented students may be eligible for scholarships at specific public universities, including Arizona State University.

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.


The following narratives highlight stories of immigrant, refugee, and international students, alumni, and scholars, including in their own words or as shared publicly.

  • Narrative

    Student Narrative: Oscar Hernandez Ortiz

    Oscar Hernadez Ortis is a fifth-grade teacher and potential law student. His life experience has allowed him to improve the lives of his students, their families, and to advocate for the permanent legalization of DACA holders, as he is a DACA recipient himself.

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  • Narrative

    Student Narrative: Vianey de Anda

    Vianey De Anda from Arizona is the Civic Engagement Communications Director at Progress Now Arizona. She comes from an immigrant background andfights for immigrant communities to achieve the American Dream.

    Continue Reading
  • Narrative

    Student Narrative: “Veronica”

    “Veronica” helps coordinate virtual and in-office visits for patients at a medical practice. Learn about how she travels to different clinics and her thoughts on the separation of Dreamers and U.S Citizens in the medical field.

    Continue Reading

Effective Practices and State Resources

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

  • Research

    Report: Higher Education and Success for Undocumented Students Start with 9 Key Criteria

    Higher Education is the key to achieving social & economic mobility in the U.S. The Education Trust analyzed 9 criteria in the 15 states with the largest shares of undocumented college students to determine whether state policies are helping or hurting undocumented students’ ability to access & complete college.

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  • Research

    Report: The Post-DACA Generation is Here

    A new report finds that an estimated 100,000 undocumented students will graduate from high school in 2022, with most of them not eligible for DACA. The new FWD.us report, published in May 2022, The Post-DACA Generation is Here, explains how DACA’s unavailability impacts undocumented youth in the U.S.

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  • Policy

    Arizona Resources: Access to In-State Tuition

    This page includes resources related to in-state tuition access in Arizona, including an issue brief on the benefits of in-state tuition, an infographic explaining current state policies, and resources from local partners and organizations.

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