Logo for: President's Alliance Higher Education & Immigration

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 Kentucky263,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students13,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students11,000
International Students12,073

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.

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 Education12,073
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$405 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State2,792
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants627

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 Kentucky188,771
Immigrant Share of Total Population4.2%
Undocumented Immigrants in State49,336
DACA-Eligible Residents in State4,247
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents$75 million
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions$15 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions$10 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 Immigrants12.1%
Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants2.9%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants3.7%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools7,337

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

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

  • 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

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

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

In-State Tuition

Kentucky’s Residency Regulatory 13 KAR 2:045, which went into effect in July 2015, allows undocumented students living in Kentucky, including DACA recipients, to access in-state tuition.

Under the policy, undocumented students must graduate from a Kentucky high school to access in-state tuition.

State Financial Aid

Kentucky does not appear to have policies regarding access to state financial aid for undocumented students.

Driver Licenses

Undocumented immigrants in Kentucky do not have access to a driver license or state identification card.

DACA recipients in Kentucky 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

    Higher Ed Guide to Tuition, Financial Aid, & Other Funding Opportunities for Undocumented Students

    An overview of in-state tuition, state aid, and other funding opportunities for undocumented students.

    Continue Reading
  • Research

    Immigrant-Origin Students in U.S. Higher Education

    The report shows that, in 2018, more than 5.3 million students, or 28% of all students enrolled in colleges and universities, were immigrants or the children of immigrants.

    Continue Reading