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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 Florida992,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students183,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students265,000
International Students42,590

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 Education40,396
DACA-Eligible Students in Higher Education7,787
Non-DACA Eligible Students in Higher Education27,991
Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year13,000

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 Education42,590
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$1.4 billion
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State12,184
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants6,997

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 Florida4,583,331
Immigrant Share of Total Population21.0%
Undocumented Immigrants in State855,979
DACA-Eligible Residents in State51,167
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents$1.1 billion
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions$172.1 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions$131.9 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 Immigrants25.9%
Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants27.0%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants42.7%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools56,834
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

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

  • Professional & Occupational Licensure Workforce Entry & Eligibility

    Restrictive: Policies actively prohibit individuals without legal status from accessing occupational licensure in most or all of the 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.

Enacted Policies

Florida provides eligible undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition.

Florida does not appear to provide undocumented residents with access to state financial aid and driver licenses  or state identification.

In-State Tuition

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:

  1. Attend a secondary school in Florida for at least three consecutive years before graduation;
  2. Enroll in a Florida public institution of higher education within 24 months after high school graduation; and,
  3. 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.

For more information on Florida’s in-state tuition waiver click here.

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. 

State Financial Aid

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 students with or without DACA or TPS attending eligible postsecondary institutions across the country. In Florida, the following institutions are TheDream.US Partner Colleges:

  • Broward College (Public)
  • Florida Atlantic University (Public)
  • Florida International University (Public)
  • Miami Dade College (Public)
  • Palm Beach State (Public)
  • University of Central Florida (Public)
  • University of South Florida (Public)
  • Valencia College (Public)
Professional & Occupational Licensure

On May 10, 2023 Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1718 that repealed a statutory provision that allowed the Florida Supreme Court to admit undocumented individuals, including DACA recipients, into The Florida Bar to practice law in the state. This will go into effect November 1, 2028 and will not affect anyone who obtains their law license before this date.

Florida 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 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.

On May 10, 2023, Governor DeSantis signed SB 1718 into law. One of the law’s provisions states that valid driver’s licenses issued to undocumented immigrants by other states will no longer be accepted in Florida.  SB 1718 went into effect on July 1, 2023. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) and Governor Ron DeSantis  released a  list of out of state licenses that are now invalid in Florida on July 5, 2023. The list is available on the FLHSMV public website

Below are some links from community organizations in Florida that detail what Florida’s SB 1718 will and will not do.

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 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.

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  • Narrative

    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.

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  • Narrative

    Student Narrative: “Piet”

    “Piet” from Florida is an E.R. nurse and is able to urgently help those who have the greatest need.

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Effective Practices and State Resources

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

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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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