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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 Georgia614,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students18,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students111,000
International Students26,450

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 Education17,479
Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year4,000

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 Education26,450
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$951.7 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State8,842
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 Georgia1,174,400
Immigrant Share of Total Population10.8%
Undocumented Immigrants in State341,100
DACA-Eligible Residents in State29,600
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents$743.1 million
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions$138.5 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions$93.5 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 Immigrants21.4%
Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants14.4%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants17.2%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools18,932
Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential25%

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

    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, except 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.

Refugee In-State Tuition: The University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents policy manual describes several categories of non-citizens as eligible for classification as Georgia residents for in-state tuition purposes. Eligible non-citizens are defined as a person who, in accordance with the Federal Title IV Programs Regulations, is a United States permanent resident with a permanent resident alien card (I-551); or a conditional permanent resident (I-551C); or the holder of an ArrivalDeparture Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing any one of the following designations: “refugee,” “asylum granted,” “parolee” (I-94 confirms paroled for a minimum of one year and status has not expired); or “Cuban-Haitian entrant.” Victims of human trafficking, in accordance with the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, may also be considered Eligible Non-Citizens.

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 students with or without DACA or TPS attending eligible postsecondary institutions across the country. In Georgia, the following institution is a TheDream.US Partner College:

  • Oglethorpe University (Private)

In addition, students with or without DACA or TPS may be eligible for an out-of-state scholarship to attend the following institutions:

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

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

Georgia 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 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.

Effective Practices and State Resources

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

  • Effective Practice

    Georgia Piedmont Technical College: providing HSE, ESL, and career pathway options to refugee students to address community needs

    Georgia Piedmont Technical College’s (GPTC) Adult Education Division provides high school equivalency (HSE) and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to the community. GPTC offers several career pathway options, including a Child Development Associate (CDA) program tailored to immigrant and refugee students. The program was developed in response to a community need for more multilingual employees in early childhood care centers. 

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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

    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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