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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 Nebraska106,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students9,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students11,000
International Students4,097

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 Education4,097
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$112.1 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State812
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants650

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 Nebraska140,000
Immigrant Share of Total Population7.1%
Undocumented Immigrants in State38,100

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 First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential19%

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

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

  • 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

Nebraska provides eligible undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition. Access to professional and occupational licensure is limited to DACA recipients and other individuals with valid work authorization.

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

In-State Tuition

Nebraska Legislative Bill (L.B.) 239, passed over a governor’s veto on April 13, 2006, allows certain undocumented students living in Nebraska, including DACA recipients, to access in-state tuition. Undocumented students must meet certain requirements to qualify for in-state tuition, including:

  1. Student resided with their parent, guardian, or conservator while attending a public or private high school in Nebraska;
  2. Graduated from a Nebraska public or private high school or obtain a GED from Nebraska;
  3. Resided in Nebraska for at least three years prior to high school graduation/obtaining a GED;
  4. Registered as an entering student in a state postsecondary educational institution not earlier than the 2006 fall semester; and,
  5. Provided to the state postsecondary educational institution an affidavit stating that the student will file an application to become a permanent resident at the earliest opportunity available to them.

Refugee In-State Tuition: University of Nebraska RP-5.7.1 states that an individual who has become a permanent resident alien of the United States or has been granted asylee or refugee status is eligible for in-state tuition. For the purposes of this section, an individual will be required to present documentation that he or she:(a) has been a resident of the State of Nebraska for a period of at least 12 months, verified as required in section 3a(1) above; and (b) is a holder of a permanent resident alien, asylee, or refugee status. 

State Financial Aid

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

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

  • College of Saint Mary (Private Women’s College)


Professional & Occupational Licensure

Nebraska Legislative Bill (L.B.) 947, signed into law on April 20, 2016, allows individuals who have valid work authorization and demonstrate lawful presence in the U.S. to obtain a professional or commercial license in the state.

Under this law, DACA recipients living in Nebraska are eligible to apply for and obtain professional and occupational licenses.

Nebraska 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 Nebraska do not have access to a driver license or state identification card.

DACA recipients in Nebraska 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.

  • 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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