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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 Maryland403,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students53,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students105,000
International Students22,743

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 Education11,970
DACA-Eligible Students in Higher Education3,202
Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year2,000

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 Education22,743
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$929.4 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State9,617
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants3,808

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 Maryland970,675
Immigrant Share of Total Population15.7%
Undocumented Immigrants in State221,651
DACA-Eligible Residents in State10,661
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents$208.4 million
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions$30.8 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions$26.3 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 Immigrants23.4%
Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants23.0%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants37.7%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools24,921
Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential43%

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

    Accessible: Policies allow undocumented individuals to obtain occupational licensure in one or more professions regardless of their immigration status, provided that they meet all other requirements.

  • 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

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

 

In-State Tuition

Maryland Senate Bill (S.B.) 167, signed into law on May 10, 2011, allows eligible undocumented students, including DACA recipients, to pay in-state tuition at the state’s public colleges and universities if they attend a community college first. On February 4, 2019, (S.B) 0537 was signed into law and removed the requirement that a student must first attend community college and lifted the requirement that student must attend three years of high school to qualify for in-state tuition.

To qualify for in-state tuition, undocumented students must meet the following conditions:

  1. Attended a public or nonpublic Maryland secondary school 
  2. Graduated from a Maryland secondary school or received a GED;
  3. Registers as a student in college no later than 6 years after graduating from high school or receiving the equivalent of a high school diploma. 
  4. Provide documentation that the student or the student’s parent or legal guardian has filed an annual Maryland income tax return for three years the individual attended a high school in the state
  5. Sign an affidavit stating that they will apply for permanent residency within 30 days of becoming eligible.
  6. In the case of an individual who is required to register with the Selective Service System, provides to the public institution of higher education documentation that the individual has complied with the registration requirement.

Refugee In-State Tuition: To be eligible for in-state tuition, noncitizens must have the “legal ability under Federal and Maryland law to live permanently and without interruption in Maryland.” See the University System of Maryland VIII-2.70 Policy on Student Classification for Admission and Tuition Purposes.

State Financial Aid

Maryland Senate Bill (S.B.) 532, enacted on May 26, 2018, and House Bill (H.B.) 262  extend eligibility to state financial aid to undocumented students, including DACA recipients, who meet the conditions for in-state tuition and fill out the Maryland State Financial Aid Application (MSFAA).

Beginning with the 2019-2020 award year, qualified children of undocumented immigrants who are eligible for in-state tuition under §15–106.8 of the MD Education Article also are now eligible to apply for various State financial aid grants and scholarships. Read the Maryland State Financial Aid Application (MSFAA) User Guide, for more information.

Maryland extends financial aid to both public and private postsecondary institutions.

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

  • St. Mary’s College of Maryland (Public)
  • Morgan State University (Public)
Professional & Occupational Licensure

Senate Bill187/House Bill 454 were signed into law on May 3, 2023. These bills prohibit health occupation boards from requiring that an applicant provide proof that the applicant is lawfully present, has a social security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number as a condition for licensure, certification, or registration.

HB 0380 was signed by the governor on April 9, 2024. The legislation prohibits the State Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Board from requiring an applicant to provide proof that the applicant is lawfully present in the U.S. or have a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number as a condition for licensure or certification. The legislation is effective October 1, 2024.

Maryland 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 Maryland are eligible to obtain a driver license. Senate Bill (S.B.) 715, signed into law on May 2, 2013, provides undocumented immigrants the ability to apply for non-compliant driver’s licenses or state identification cards. Undocumented residents must meet certain requirements to apply for a driver license, including obtaining an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and filing Maryland income taxes for the 2 years before seeking a driver’s license.

DACA recipients in Maryland are allowed to obtain a driver license or state identification card.

Narratives

The following narratives highlight stories of immigrant, refugee, and international students, alumni, and scholars, including in their own words or as shared publicly.

  • Narrative

    Student Narrative: Johanna Vazquez Coto

    Born in El Salvador, Johanna Vasquez now has a degree in Early Childhood Education and supports young children through the education system to succeed no matter their background.

    Continue Reading

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.

    Continue Reading
  • 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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  • 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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