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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 Minnesota276,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students37,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students38,000
International Students14,321

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 Education2,845
DACA-Eligible Students in Higher Education956
Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year3,000

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 Education14,321
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$459.5 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State3,366
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants2,265

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 Minnesota501,318
Immigrant Share of Total Population8.8%
Undocumented Immigrants in State72,167

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 Immigrants14.2%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants25.1%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools14,619
Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential55%

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

Minnesota provides eligible undocumented and refugee residents, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition and state financial aid. The state does not appear to have legislation that extends occupational and professional licensure to undocumented individuals.

Minnesota provides eligible undocumented residents, including DACA recipients with access to driver licenses and state identification

In-State Tuition

The Minnesota Dream Act, also known as the Prosperity Act, was signed into law on May 23, 2013, as part of an omnibus higher education bill. It provides the state’s undocumented students, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition. Students must meet certain requirements to access in-state tuition, including:

  1. Attended a high school in the state for at least 3 years;
  2. Graduated from a Minnesota high school or earned a GED;
  3. Registered with the U.S. Selective Service (males 18 to 25 years old); and,
  4. Provide documentation to show they applied for lawful immigration status, but only if a federal process exists. There is currently no federal process in place for DACA recipients and undocumented students to apply for lawful immigration status, so this documentation is not required at the moment.

Certain public colleges and universities in Minnesota offer access to in-state tuition to all students regardless of their immigration status or state of residence, including students who do not qualify for the Minnesota Dream Act.

Minnesota Senate Bill SF 1236, approved on May 24, 2013, permits students defined as a refugee to be considered as resident students if upon arrival in the United States, they moved to Minnesota and have continued to reside in Minnesota. As a resident student, they then could qualify for the resident tuition rate in state universities and college if they meet the following requirements: 1) high school attendance within the state for three or more years; (2) graduation from a state high school or attainment within the state of the equivalent of high school graduation; and (3) in the case of a student without lawful immigration status: (i) documentation that the student has complied with selective service registration requirements; and (ii) if a federal process exists for the student to obtain lawful immigration status the student must present the higher education institution with documentation from federal immigration authorities that the student has filed an application to obtain lawful immigration status.

Refugee In-State Tuition: Refugees are classified as “resident students” upon resettlement to Minnesota. Minnesota Statutes Sec. 136A.101(8) states:  “Resident student” means a student who meets one of the following conditions: (8) a person defined as a refugee under United States Code, title 8, section 1101(a)(42), who, upon arrival in the United States, moved to Minnesota and has continued to reside in Minnesota.”

State Financial Aid

The Minnesota DREAM Act provides eligible undocumented students, including DACA recipients, with access to state financial aid.

Students may also be eligible for privately funded financial aid through public colleges and universities if they meet the state’s residency requirements.

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

Beginning in fall 2024, the North Star Promise (NSP) Scholarship program will create a tuition and fee-free pathway to higher education for eligible Minnesota residents at eligible institutions as a “last dollar” program by covering the balance of tuition and fees remaining after other scholarships, grants, stipends and tuition waivers have been applied. Undocumented immigrants are among those who will be eligible.

Eligible students must:

  • Be a Minnesota resident*

  • Have a family Adjusted Gross Income below $80,000
  • Attend a Minnesota public higher education institution or Tribal college

  • Not be in default on a state or federal student loan

  • Be enrolled taking at least one credit

  • Meet satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards

  • Have not already earned a baccalaureate degree

  • Be enrolled in a program or course of study that applies to a degree, diploma, or certificate

 A Minnesota resident includes students who meet ONE of the following criteria:

  • Graduated from a Minnesota high school while residing in Minnesota and, if currently residing in another state, physically attending Minnesota college.
  • Received a GED in Minnesota after living in the state for at least one year.
  • Is a refugee who immediately settled in Minnesota and has continued to reside in Minnesota.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Minnesota will be among those eligible and would need to fill out a Minnesota Dream Act application since they aren’t eligible for FASFA

For the full list of criteria for residents, visit the Minnesota Office of Higher Education website.

Professional & Occupational Licensure

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

Minnesota 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

Minnesota became the 18th state to grant undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses. Governor Walz signed Minnesota House Bill (H.F.) 4, also known as the “Driver’s License for All Bill,” on March 7, 2023. This bill enables individuals residing in the state to acquire a driver’s license and identification card, irrespective of their immigration status, provided they meet all other licensing requirements and furnish satisfactory proof of identity, date of birth, and Minnesota residency to the registrar. The driver’s licenses would be non-REAL ID compliant. 

DACA recipients in Minnesota can 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.

    Continue Reading
  • 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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