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 Florida as a Accessible 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 Florida||1,068,000|
|First-Generation Immigrant Students||240,000|
|Second-Generation Immigrant Students||246,000|
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.
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 Education||40,152|
|DACA-Eligible Students in Higher Education||12,161|
|Non-DACA Eligible Students in Higher Education||27,991|
|Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year||5,000|
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 Education||39,622|
|Economic Contributions of International Students in the State||$1.2 billion|
|Jobs Supported by International Students in the State||11,602|
|Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants||6,997|
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 Florida||4,523,312|
|Immigrant Share of Total Population||21.1%|
|Undocumented Immigrants in State||911,356|
|DACA-Eligible Residents in State||68,903|
|Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents||$1.087 billion|
|DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions||$158.2 million|
|DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions||$131.8 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 Immigrants||25.4%|
|Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants||25.4%|
|Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants||44.7%|
|First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools||56,834|
|Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential||54%|
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
Accessible: Policies provide statewide access to in-state tuition for the state's undocumented students, including DACA recipients.
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.
Florida provides eligible undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition. The state enacted legislation that allows eligible undocumented residents with valid work authorization, including DACA recipients, to obtain a license to practice law.
Florida does not appear to provide undocumented residents with access to state financial aid and driver licenses or state identification.
Florida House Bill (H.B.) 851, signed into law on June 9, 2014, allows certain undocumented students living in Florida, including DACA recipients, to access in-state tuition. Undocumented students must apply for an out-of-state fee waiver. They must meet certain requirements to apply for the out-of-state fee waiver, including:
- Attend a secondary school in Florida for at least three consecutive years before graduation;
- Enroll in a Florida public institution of higher education within 24 months after high school graduation; and,
- Submit an official Florida high school transcript as evidence of attendance and graduation.
Students who apply for an out-of-state fee waiver are not eligible for state financial aid.
Refugee In-State Tuition: Under a Florida Department of Education policy, certain non-U.S. citizens who are recognized under federal law as having legal status in the United States such as lawful permanent residents, persons in certain visa categories, asylees, parolees, refugees, and Cuban-Haitian entrants who have applied for such status and who otherwise meet the consecutive 12-month legal residence requirements, are eligible to establish Florida residency for tuition purposes. Provided that the non-U.S. citizen has proof of his or her permanent immigration status, he or she may be classified as a Florida resident after 12 consecutive months from the time he or she establishes legal Florida residence for tuition purposes. It is not necessary to wait 12 consecutive months from the date he or she becomes an eligible alien (e.g., the date the resident alien card (I-551) is issued). Asylum seekers are eligible if they can present a receipt proving they have a pending application or an employment authorization document.
Florida 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 Florida, the following institutions are TheDream.US Partner Colleges:
- Broward College;
- Florida Atlantic University;
- Florida International University;
- Miami Dade College;
- Palm Beach State;
- University of Central Florida;
- University of South Florida; and,
- Valencia College.
Florida’s CS/CS/H.B. 755, signed into law on May 12, 2014, authorizes the Florida Supreme Court to admit undocumented individuals with valid work authorization, including DACA recipients, into The Florida Bar to practice law in the state. Applicants must meet the following conditions to qualify:
- Brought to the United States as a minor;
- Present in the United States for more than 10 years;
- Has fulfilled all requirements for admission to practice law;
- Has written authorization for employment from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS);
- Has a Social Security Number (SSN); and,
- Registered with the Selective Service System if the applicant is male.
Undocumented immigrants in Florida do not have access to a driver license or state identification card. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles implemented new changes in July 2020 that require non-citizens to provide evidence of lawful presence in the U.S. and a Social Security Number (SSN) to obtain a driver’s license.
DACA recipients in Florida are allowed to obtain a driver license or state identification card.
Florida is considering legislation to expand access to state financial aid to undocumented students.
Florida Senate Bill (S.B.) 300, introduced on December 18, 2020, and House Bill (H.B.) 923, introduced on February 10, 2021, would expand access to state financial aid to undocumented students who graduate from a Florida high school and meet other certain requirements.
The following narratives highlight stories of immigrant, refugee, and international students, alumni, and scholars, including in their own words or as shared publicly.
Student Narrative: Damela Cedelias
Damela Cedelias is an educator that encourages hundreds of students to strive for success. She has also co-founded a non-profit organization that provides social and academic support.Continue Reading
Student Narrative: Kevin Roth
Kevin Roth started his career in a ministry and is now a secondary math teacher in Nevada. He believes in investing in the future generation with time and care.Continue Reading
Student Narrative: “Piet”
“Piet” from Florida is an E.R. nurse and is able to urgently help those who have the greatest need.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
Florida’s In-State Tuition Waiver for Dreamers: What You Need to Know
In February 2023, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a set of legislative proposals on immigration, including a measure to strip in-state tuition access from Dreamers. The passage of this measure could impact more than 40,000 undocumented students enrolled in higher education in Florida.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