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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 Mississippi113,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students7,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students3,000
International Students2,960

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 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 Education2,960
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$73.5 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State593
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants245

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 Mississippi64,600
Immigrant Share of Total Population2.2%
Undocumented Immigrants in State19,600

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 First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential6%

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

    Limited to DACA: Policies provide the state’s DACA recipients with access to in-state tuition in at least some public institutions.

  • Professional & Occupational Licensure Workforce Entry & Eligibility

    Limited: Policies allow individuals with work authorization, such as DACA recipients, to obtain occupational licensure in one or more professions that require licensure.

  • 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

Mississippi does not provide undocumented residents with access to in-state tuition, state financial aid, or driver licenses and state identification.

However, some public colleges and universities in Mississippi may allow DACA recipients to access in-state tuition.

Mississippi affirmatively allows DACA recipients with valid work authorization to obtain a license to work as a professional counselor.

In-State Tuition

Mississippi does not appear to have statewide policies that expand access to in-state tuition to the state’s undocumented students.

Certain public colleges and universities in Mississippi might allow eligible DACA recipients to access in-state tuition.

Refugee In-State Tuition: Mississippi does not appear to have state policies that expand access to in-state tuition to the state’s refugee students. Policies may vary by institution.

State Financial Aid

Mississippi requires in statutory law that students apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to obtain state financial aid. This policy likely limits the number of undocumented students in the state, including DACA recipients, who can access state financial aid.

Additional Financial Aid

TheDream.US is a national organization that offers scholarships to DACA and undocumented students attending eligible postsecondary institutions across the country. In Mississippi, undocumented and DACA students may be eligible for an out-of-state scholarship to attend the following institutions:

  • Christian Brothers University
  • Delaware State University
  • Eastern Connecticut State University
  • Trinity Washington University (Women’s College)
  • Dominican University
Professional & Occupational Licensure

Mississippi House Bill (H.B.) 708, signed into law on March 19, 2018, allows individuals with work authorization, to obtain a license as a Provisional Licensed Professional Counselor if they meet all other requirements. Non-U.S. citizens applying for this license should provide, “an immigration document to verify legal alien work status in the United States. The immigration document must be current.”

DACA recipients with a valid employment authorization are eligible to apply for this license.

Mississippi 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 in Mississippi do not have access to a driver license or state identification card. House Bill (H.B) 1371, signed into law on July 8, 2020, specifies that applicants for a Mississippi driver’s license must present evidence of U.S. citizenship, lawful status, or a valid employment authorization document (EAD), among other evidence accepted by the state.

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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