This state page integrates student data, economic contributions, state policies, effective practices, and other resources to learn about and better support the state’s undocumented, other immigrant, and international students in higher education.
We classify Kentucky as a Accessible state in terms of inclusive in-state tuition and state financial aid policies for undocumented students. The Portal tracks state policies for undocumented students on in-state tuition, state financial aid, professional and occupational licensure, and driver licenses.
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 Kentucky||263,000|
|First-Generation Immigrant Students||13,000|
|Second-Generation Immigrant Students||11,000|
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 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 Education||8,891|
|Economic Contributions of International Students in the State||$252.3 million|
|Jobs Supported by International Students in the State||1,716|
|Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants||627|
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 Kentucky||188,771|
|Immigrant Share of Total Population||4.2%|
|Undocumented Immigrants in State||49,336|
|DACA-Eligible Residents in State||4,247|
|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 Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants||2.9%|
|Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants||3.7%|
|First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools||7,337|
|Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential||38%|
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).
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
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.
Kentucky provides eligible undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition. The state does not appear to have legislation that extends occupational and professional licensure to undocumented individuals, including DACA recipients.
Kentucky does not provide undocumented residents with access to state financial aid or driver licenses and state identification. However, displaced students might be eligible for certain scholarships in fiscal year (FY) 2022-2023.
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.
Refugee In-State Tuition: Section 8 of 13 Ky. Admin. Regs. 2:045 provides: “A person holding a permanent residency visa or classified as a political refugee shall establish domicile and residency in the same manner as another person.”
Kentucky does not appear to have policies regarding access to state financial aid for undocumented students.
Kentucky does not appear to have legislation that affirmatively extends occupational and professional licensure to undocumented individuals, including DACA recipients.
Kentucky Professional Licensure Requirements & Business Registration
To learn more about the licensure & business registration requirements, review TheDream.US & Immigrant Finance Resource Guide. The information in the guide is based on outreach to the state’s specific licensing boards from April to July 2023 and is subject to change. To get up to date information on licensure application requirements, individuals should verify this information with the licensing board.
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.
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.Continue Reading
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.Continue Reading
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.Continue Reading