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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 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 Georgia543,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students33,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students58,000
International Students24,265

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 Education14,201
Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year3,000

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

International students comprise only 5.5 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 Education24,265
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$839.2 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State9,355
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants7,035

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 Georgia1,083,553
Immigrant Share of Total Population10.2%
Undocumented Immigrants in State352,643
DACA-Eligible Residents in State36,395
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents$614.2 million
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions$103.6 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions$77.6 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 Immigrants22.8%
Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants11.4%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants17.3%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools23,057

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 (NAE) and international students (NAFSA).

State Policies

Evaluating Access for Undocumented 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.

  • In-State Tuition & State Financial Aid Access and Affordability

    Prohibitive Enrollment: Policies actively bar enrollment in all or certain public institutions for the state’s undocumented students, but may still allow DACA recipients to enroll.

  • Professional & Occupational Licensure Workforce Entry & Eligibility

    No State Policy: No policies identified that actively expand access to occupational licensure for individuals who do not have legal immigration status.

  • 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

Georgia prohibits undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, from enrolling in certain public universities. Georgia also blocks undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, from accessing in-state tuition or state financial aid at any public university or college.

Georgia does not appear to have statewide policies that expand access to professional and occupational licensure or driver licenses and state identification to the state’s undocumented residents.

In-State Tuition

Georgia Senate Bill (S.B.) 492, signed into law on May 14, 2008, requires the state’s undocumented students, including DACA recipients, to pay out-of-state tuition.

Georgia Board of Regents Policy 4.1.6 prohibits undocumented students from enrolling in any University of Georgia institution that did not admit all academically qualified applicants in the two most recent academic years, save for cases where the institution rejected the student for non-academic reasons. The policy effectively bars undocumented students, including DACA recipients, from enrolling in some of the state’s most prestigious public colleges and universities, including:

  • Georgia Institute of Technology,
  • Georgia College & State University,
  • University of Georgia.

A federal appeals court upheld the validity of Policy 4.1.6 in March 2019.

Georgia House Bill (H.B.) 444, signed into law in April 2020, allows students, regardless of their immigration status, to participate in dual enrollment programs at no cost.

State Financial Aid

Georgia Senate Bill (S.B.) 492 prohibits the state’s undocumented students, including DACA recipients, from accessing state financial aid.

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 Georgia, the following institution is a TheDream.US Partner College:

  • Oglethorpe University.

In addition, undocumented and DACA students may be eligible for an out-of-state scholarship to attend the following institutions:

  • Christian Brothers University;
  • Delaware State University;
  • Eastern Connecticut State University; and,
  • Trinity Washington University (Women’s College).
Professional & Occupational Licensure

Georgia does not appear to have legislation that affirmatively extends occupational and professional licensure to undocumented individuals, including DACA recipients.

Driver Licenses

Undocumented immigrants in Georgia do not have access to a driver license or state identification card. The Georgia Department of Driver Services requires 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 Georgia are allowed to obtain a driver license or state identification card.

Proposed Policies

Georgia is considering legislation to expand access to reduced tuition to the state’s DACA recipients. 

In-State Tuition

Georgia House Bill (H.B.) 120, introduced on March 31, 2021, would grant Georgia public colleges and universities the ability to set “opportunity tuition rates” for the state’s DACA recipients. These rates would be between 100 percent to 110 percent of the standard in-state tuition rate. To qualify, students must be DACA recipients, have graduated from a Georgia high school or an equivalent, and lived in Georgia since at least January 1, 2013, among other requirements. 

DACA recipients would still not be able to enroll in some of the state’s top research universities, such as Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia.

Effective Practices and State Resources

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

  • Research

    Undocumented Students in Higher Education (Updated March 2021)

    More than 427,000 undocumented students in the U.S. are enrolled in higher education, including 181,000 DACA-eligible individuals.

    Continue Reading
  • Policy

    Rethinking Tuition for Undocumented Students Through ITAs

    The report examines whether inter-state tuition agreements can expand access to higher education for undocumented students.

    Continue Reading