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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 31% 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 Connecticut192,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students32,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students31,000
International Students16,727

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 408,000 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 Education4,435
DACA-Eligible Students in Higher Education1,152
Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year1,000

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

International students comprise only 4 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 Education16,727
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$698.2 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State6,228
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants1,842

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 Connecticut551,176
Immigrant Share of Total Population15.3%
Undocumented Immigrants in State108,529

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 Immigrants22.8%
Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants21.6%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants34.5%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools13,807
Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential47%

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

    Comprehensive Access: Policies provide statewide access to in-state tuition and some state financial aid or scholarships for the state's resident DACA recipients and undocumented students.

  • 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

    Accessible: Policies provide the state’s undocumented residents with access to driver licenses and/or state identification regardless of their immigration status, but these are not REAL ID compliant.

Enacted Policies

Connecticut provides eligible undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition, state financial aid, and driver licenses and state identification. Current regulations allow eligible DACA recipients to obtain a license to practice law.

In-State Tuition

Connecticut House Bill (H.B.) 6844, signed into law on June 19, 2015, allows undocumented students, including DACA recipients, to access in-state tuition at the state’s public colleges and universities. Students must meet certain requirements to access in-state tuition, including:

  1. Reside in Connecticut;
  2. Complete at least 2 years of high school in Connecticut;
  3. Graduate from a high school or its equivalent in Connecticut; and,
  4. Is registered or enrolled at a public institution of higher education in Connecticut; and
  5. If a person is undocumented, file an affidavit stating that he or she has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file such an application as soon as he or she is eligible to do so. 

Refugee In-State Tuition: Substitute House Bill No. 6390 and Section 10a-29 of the Connecticut State Statutes deems refugees eligible for in-state tuition after establishing domicile. Residency is established after 6 months of employment in the state (or if you’re a dependent of someone who is employed in the state) or after one year.

State Financial Aid

Connecticut Public Act (P.A.) 18-2, enacted on April 27, 2018, provides undocumented students, including DACA recipients, with access to institutional financial aid. Students must meet certain requirements to access state financial aid, including:

  1. Be classified as an in-state student for tuition purposes;
  2. Thirty years of age or younger on June 15, 2012;
  3. Sixteen years of age or younger when they arrived in the United States and have continuously resided in the United States since such arrival; and,
  4. Have not been convicted of a felony in the state or another state.

Connecticut extends financial aid to both public and private postsecondary institutions.

Additional Financial Aid

TheDream.US is a national organization that offers scholarships to students with or without DACA or TPS attending eligible postsecondary institutions across the country. In Connecticut, the following institution is a TheDream.US Partner College:

  • Eastern Connecticut State University (Public)
  • Southern Connecticut State University (Public)
Professional & Occupational Licensure

Current rules allow eligible DACA recipients to get a license to practice law. The Connecticut Bar Examining Committee Rules of the Superior Court Regulating Admission to the Bar, states that an applicant  must be a  citizen of the United States or an individual lawfully residing in the United States, which includes individuals with valid work authorization. 

Connecticut Professional Licensure Requirements & Business Registration

To learn more about professional/occupational licensure requirements, review TheDream.US & Immigrant Finance Resource guide here

To learn more about state business and tax registration requirements, review TheDream.US & Immigrant Finance Resource guide here. 

The information in these guides is based on outreach to the state’s specific licensing boards and each state’s business and tax agencies from April to July 2023 and is subject to change. To get up to date information on requirements, individuals should verify with the appropriate state agency. 

Driver Licenses

Undocumented immigrants living in Connecticut are eligible to obtain a driver license. Public Act (P.A.) 2013-89, enacted on June 6, 2013, allows undocumented residents living in Connecticut to receive “Drive-Only Licenses” if they meet certain requirements, including showing proof of identity and residency as well as filing an affidavit promising to legalize when eligible.

In 2007, the city of New Haven started an identification resident card program that provides local government-issued identification cards for all New Haven residents, including undocumented immigrants. The identification cards, known as Elm City Resident Cards, allow individuals to open bank accounts and obtain access to public libraries, parks, and recreational services, among other benefits.

DACA recipients in Connecticut are also allowed to obtain a driver license or state identification card.

Effective Practices and State Resources

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

  • Research

    Immigrant-Origin Students in U.S. Higher Education (Updated August 2023)

    The report’s findings reveal the growing proportion of first and second generation immigrant students in postsecondary education, the diversity of these students, and their importance for future U.S. labor growth.

    Continue Reading
  • Research

    Undocumented Students in Higher Education

    The new estimates show there are more than 408, 000 undocumented students enrolled in postsecondary education, representing about 1.9 percent of all postsecondary students. This estimate represents a decrease of 4.2 percent from 2019, when 427,000 undocumented students were enrolled.

    Continue Reading
  • Research

    Report: The Post-DACA Generation is Here

    A new report finds that an estimated 120,000 undocumented students will graduate from high school in 2023, with most of them not eligible for DACA. The new FWD.us report, published in May 2023, The Post-DACA Generation is Here, explains how DACA’s unavailability impacts undocumented youth in the U.S.

    Continue Reading