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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 28% 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 New Jersey414,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students69,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students146,000
International Students23,092

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 427,000 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 Education17,590
Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year4,000

Note: Undocumented students are a sub-group of first-generation students.

International students comprise only 5.5 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 Education23,092
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$809.3 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State9,086
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants15,396

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 New Jersey2,077,801
Immigrant Share of Total Population23.4%
Undocumented Immigrants in State471,668
DACA-Eligible Residents in State38,576
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents$744 million
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions$134.2 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions$88.3 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 Immigrants41.9%
Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants27.5%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants52.6%
DACA recipients in STEM or Health Professions2,141
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools30,889

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 (NAE) and international students (NAFSA).

State Policies

Evaluating Access for Undocumented 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.

  • 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

    Comprehensive Access: Policies allow individuals to obtain occupational licensure in all 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

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

In-State Tuition

New Jersey Senate Bill (S.) 2479, signed into law on December 20, 2013, provides eligible undocumented students, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition. Students must meet certain requirements to access in-state tuition, including:

  1. Attend high school in New Jersey for three or more years;
  2. Graduate from a high school in New Jersey or received the equivalent of a high school diploma;
  3. Register as an entering student or is enrolled in a public institution of higher education no earlier than Fall 2013; and,
  4. Files an affidavit to the college or university stating that the student has filed an application to legalize their lawful status or will file an application when eligible.
State Financial Aid

New Jersey Senate Bill (S.) 699, signed into law on May 9, 2018, provides the state’s undocumented students, including DACA recipients, with access to state financial aid.

Undocumented students must meet the same criteria required for in-state tuition under S. 2479 to 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 New Jersey the following institutions are TheDream.US Partner Colleges:

  • Rutgers University Newark; and,
  • Rutgers University New Brunswick.
Professional & Occupational Licensure

New Jersey allows individuals to obtain professional and occupational licensure regardless of their immigration status.

New Jersey Senate Bill (S.) 2455, signed into law on September 1, 2020, removes the requirement for lawful presence in the U.S. as a qualification for obtaining professional or occupational licenses. There are more than 200 jobs in New Jersey that require a license, including teaching and nursing.

Driver Licenses

Undocumented immigrants living in New Jersey are eligible to obtain a driver license. Assembly bill A. 4743, signed into law on December 19, 2019, allows the state’s undocumented residents to obtain a driver’s license or state identification card if they meet certain requirements. The law went into effect in January 2021.

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


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

  • Narrative

    Alumni Narrative: Kavita

    Kavita Ramdas came to the U.S. from India as an international student, becoming a leader on gender and women's rights.

    Continue Reading

Effective Practices and State Resources

Spotlight on effective practices and policy, research, or community-based state resources.

  • Research

    Undocumented Students in Higher Education (Updated March 2021)

    More than 427,000 undocumented students in the U.S. are enrolled in higher education, including 181,000 DACA-eligible individuals.

    Continue Reading
  • Effective Practice

    Higher Ed Guide to Tuition, Financial Aid, & Other Funding Opportunities for Undocumented Students

    An overview of in-state tuition, state aid, and other funding opportunities for undocumented students.

    Continue Reading