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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 Hawaii60,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students4,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students18,000
International Students3,939

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 Education722
DACA-Eligible Students in Higher Education167
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 Education3,939
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$133.6 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State869
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants310

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 Hawaii263,904
Immigrant Share of Total Population18.3%
Undocumented Immigrants in State30,997

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 Immigrants19.4%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants49.7%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools5,361
Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential49%

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

    Comprehensive Access: Policies provide statewide access to in-state tuition and some state financial aid or scholarships for the state's resident DACA recipients and undocumented students.

  • 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

    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

Hawaii provides eligible undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition, state financial aid, and driver licenses and state identification.

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


In-State Tuition

Hawaii provides undocumented students, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition at the state’s public colleges and universities. The University of Hawaii system, which encompasses all public colleges and universities in the state, has expanded access to in-state tuition to the state’s undocumented students.

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents Policy 6.209 states that undocumented students must meet the following residency requirements to access in-state tuition:

  1. Establish residency by domiciling and being physically present in Hawaii for 12 months;
  2. Attended a public or private high school in the United States for at least three years and graduated from or attained the equivalent of such from a U.S. high school; and,
  3. Filed an application for DACA or for legal immigration status, or filed an affidavit with the university affirming the student’s intent to file such an application as soon as the student is able.

Hawaii Statute Section 304A-402 allows the University of Hawaii Board of Regents to expand access to resident tuition fees to individuals, including undocumented students, living in Hawaii.

Refugee In-State Tuition: University of Hawaii Administrative Rules Section 20-4-9 (g) state that an alien may establish residence unless prohibited by the Immigration and Nationality Act from establishing domicile in the US. The date of approval of such status shall be the earliest date upon which the 12-month residency requirement may begin to accrue.

State Financial Aid

Hawaii provides undocumented students, including DACA recipients, with access to state financial aid. The University of Hawaii Board of Regents Policy 6.209 states that undocumented students who meet the Hawaii residency requirements are eligible for state financial aid.

Professional & Occupational Licensure

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

Hawaii 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 Hawaii are eligible to obtain a driver license. House Bill (H.B.) 1007, passed on July 2, 2015, permits the state’s undocumented residents to apply for a driver’s license if they show proof of identity and residency. These licenses cannot be used for federal identification purposes.

DACA recipients in Hawaii 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.

  • 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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  • 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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