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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 Delaware50,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students6,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students5,000
International Students3,819

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 Education723
DACA-Eligible Students in Higher Education367
Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year<1,000

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 Education3,819
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$107.7 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State1,039
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants1,781

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 Delaware100,840
Immigrant Share of Total Population10.0%
Undocumented Immigrants in State22,186

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 Immigrants20.2%
Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential58%

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

    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

    Comprehensive Access: Policies allow individuals to obtain occupational licensure in all professions regardless of their immigration status, provided that they meet all other requirements.

  • 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

Undocumented residents in Delaware, including DACA recipients, can access in-state tuition and some state financial aid in at least one public institution. Delaware also provides eligible undocumented residents with access to driver licenses.

Delaware also extends occupational and professional licensure to undocumented individuals, including DACA recipients.

In-State Tuition

Delaware does not have statewide policies that expand access to in-state tuition to undocumented students. However, at least some public institutions in Delaware allow the state’s undocumented students, including DACA recipients, to access in-state tuition:

  • University of Delaware,
  • Delaware Technical Community College.

Refugee In-State Tuition: The Delaware Higher Education Office policy states that the following categories are eligible for in-state tuition upon meeting the 12 month residency requirement: An eligible noncitizen with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (specifically, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) showing any one of the following designations: “Refugee,” “Asylum Granted,” “Paroled” (the I-94 must confirm ‘paroled for a minimum of 1-year and status’ has not expired), “Conditional Entrant” (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980) or “Cuban-Haitian Entrant, status pending”.

State Financial Aid

Delaware does not appear to have statewide policies regarding access to state financial aid for undocumented students, including DACA recipients.

However, at least one public institution has enacted financial aid opportunities for undocumented students. Delaware Technical Community College allows undocumented students to apply for the Students Excellence Equals Degree (SEED) scholarship, funded by the Delaware General Assembly under Title 14. Students can apply for the SEED scholarship to receive up to full tuition funding. Undocumented students must meet the following requirements to qualify, including:

  1. Attended a high school in the State of Delaware for two or more years;
  2. Graduated high school in Delaware;
  3. Applied for all eligible campus-based financial aid; and,
  4. Submitted a tuition affidavit which certifies that the student is an undocumented person and they have filed an application to legalize their immigration status or will file an application to legalize their application status as soon as they are eligible. 

Additional Financial Aid

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

  • Delaware State University (Public)
Professional & Occupational Licensure

SB 80 was signed by the Governor on August 31, 2023. SB 80 codified the current practice in Delaware of not requiring proof of citizenship or a specific immigration status on an application for a professional license. The State may not deny an application because of the applicant’s immigration or citizenship status.

If an application requires a social security number, an applicant who does not have a social security number can instead provide an alternative personally identifying number, such as the applicant’s individual taxpayer identification number when completing the application.

Delaware 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 Delaware are eligible to obtain a driving privilege card. Senate Bill (S.B.) 59, signed into law on June 30, 2015, allows undocumented residents to apply for the Driving Privilege Card. Applicants must show a proof of identity and have filed or been claimed as a dependent on Delaware taxes for at least two years. The licenses include text stating “Driving Privilege Only” and “Not Valid for Identification.”

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

Narratives

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 Narratives: Presidents’ Alliance Dream Summer Fellows

    A conversation with two Dream Summer Fellows who have joined the Presidents' Alliance since 2019. Through our partnership, we have hosted fellows who have done outstanding work within our organization and centered the voices of those directly impacted by immigration.

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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

    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.

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  • 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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