This state page integrates student data, economic contributions, state policies, effective practices, and other resources to learn about and better support the state’s undocumented, other immigrant, and international students in higher education.
We classify Arkansas as a Limited to DACA state in terms of inclusive in-state tuition and state financial aid policies for undocumented students. The Portal tracks state policies for undocumented students on in-state tuition, state financial aid, professional and occupational licensure, and driver licenses.
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 Arkansas||160,000|
|First-Generation Immigrant Students||10,000|
|Second-Generation Immigrant Students||10,000|
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.
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 Education||4,579|
|Economic Contributions of International Students in the State||$110.2 million|
|Jobs Supported by International Students in the State||836|
|Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants||788|
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 Arkansas||154,646|
|Immigrant Share of Total Population||5.1%|
|Undocumented Immigrants in State||61,015|
|DACA-Eligible Residents in State||8,065|
|Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents||$142.8 milllion|
|DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions||$21.7 million|
|DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions||$20.2 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 Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants||3.5%|
|First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools||3,092|
|Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential||29%|
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).
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
Limited to DACA: Policies provide the state’s DACA recipients with access to in-state tuition in at least some public institutions.
Professional & Occupational Licensure Workforce Entry & Eligibility
Limited: Policies allow individuals with work authorization, such as DACA recipients, to obtain occupational licensure in one or more professions that require licensure.
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.
Arkansas provides eligible DACA recipients with access to in-state tuition and professional and occupational licensure.
Arkansas does not provide undocumented residents with access to in-state tuition, state financial aid, or driver licenses and state identification.
Arkansas House Bill (H.B.) 1684, signed into law in April 2019, allows the state’s DACA recipients who meet certain requirements to pay the in-state tuition rate in all the state’s public colleges and universities. These requirements include:
- Residing in Arkansas for at least three (3) years at the time the student applies for admission to a state-supported institution of higher education; and
- Graduated from a public or private high school in state or received a high school equivalency diploma in Arkansas.
Undocumented students without DACA are not eligible for in-state tuition in Arkansas.
Refugee In-State Tuition: Arkansas does not appear to have state policies that expand access to in-state tuition to the state’s refugee students.
Arkansas does not appear to have policies regarding access to state financial aid for undocumented students, including DACA recipients.
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 Arkansas, the following institution is a TheDream.US Partner College:
- Arkansas Tech University.
Arkansas provides eligible DACA recipients with access to professional and occupational licensure.
Arkansas House Bill (H.B.) 1735, signed into law on April 19, 2021, allows all occupational and professional licensing entities in the state to grant occupational and professional licenses to undocumented individuals with valid work authorization, including DACA recipients, who have fulfilled all other licensure requirements needed to practice.
In addition, Arkansas House Bill (H.B) 1594, signed into law on April 1, 2021, allows the state’s Division of Elementary and Secondary Education to grant teaching licenses to DACA recipients with valid work authorization who have fulfilled all other teaching licensure requirements.
Prior to HB 1735, Arkansas House Bill (H.B.) 1552, signed into law on April 10, 2019, authorized the Arkansas State Board of Nursing to grant nursing licenses to DACA recipients with valid work authorization who have fulfilled all other necessary nursing licensure requirements.
Undocumented immigrants in Arkansas do not have access to a driver license or state identification card.
DACA recipients in Arkansas are allowed to obtain a driver license or state identification card.
The following narratives highlight stories of immigrant, refugee, and international students, alumni, and scholars, including in their own words or as shared publicly.
Alumni Narrative: Amit
Dr. Amit Sapra came to the U.S. from India to pursue his medical residency at the University of Arkansas.Continue Reading
Effective Practices and State Resources
Spotlight on effective practices and policy, research, or community-based state resources.
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.Continue Reading
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.Continue Reading
Higher Ed Guide to Tuition, Financial Aid, & Other Funding Opportunities for Undocumented Students
An overview of in-state tuition, state aid, and other funding opportunities for undocumented students.Continue Reading