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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 South Carolina241,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students7,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students5,000
International Students6,493

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.

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 Education6,493
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$199.2 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State1,954
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants721

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 South Carolina288,580
Immigrant Share of Total Population5.6%
Undocumented Immigrants in State102,029
DACA-Eligible Residents in State8,785
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents$134 million
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions$19.6 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions$13.7 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 Immigrants7.5%
Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants4.8%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants3.7%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools6,936

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

    Prohibitive Enrollment: Policies actively bar enrollment in all or certain public institutions for the state’s undocumented students, but may still allow DACA recipients to enroll.

  • 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

    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

South Carolina prohibits undocumented residents from enrolling in the state’s public colleges and universities, and from accessing in-state tuition, state financial aid, and driver licenses and state identification.

DACA recipients are eligible to enroll in public colleges and universities, but they cannot access in-state tuition or state financial aid.

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

In-State Tuition

South Carolina House Bill (H.B.) 4400, signed into law on June 4, 2008, prohibits undocumented students from enrolling in the state’s public colleges and universities, and from receiving certain education benefits, such as in-state tuition, scholarships, and grants.

The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education determined that DACA recipients are eligible to enroll in the state’s institutions of higher education but cannot access in-state tuition or state financial aid.

State Financial Aid

South Carolina House Bill (H.B.) 3620, signed into law on June 29, 2007, specifies that undocumented students cannot receive tuition assistance, scholarships, or any form of state financial aid for higher education.

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 South Carolina, undocumented and DACA students may be eligible for a scholarship to attend the following out-of-state institutions:

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

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

Driver Licenses

Undocumented immigrants in South Carolina do not have access to a driver license or state identification card.

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

Proposed Policies

South Carolina is considering legislation that would affirmatively provide DACA recipients with access to in-state tuition, some state financial aid, and professional and occupational licensure.

In-State Tuition and State Financial Aid

South Carolina Senate Bill (S.B.) 24, introduced on January 12, 2021, would allow individuals with lawful presence in the U.S., including DACA recipients, to establish domicile in the state for the purpose of accessing in-state tuition at public institutions and state-based scholarships and grants. The bill would also provide DACA recipients with access to professional and occupational licensure.

Professional & Occupational Licensure

South Carolina is considering legislation that would allow qualified DACA recipients and victims of trafficking to obtain professional and occupational licensure in the state. South Carolina House bill (H.) 3243 passed the South Carolina House of Representatives on April 6, 2021 by a bipartisan 98 to 5 vote. The bill now heads to the Senate Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry where it awaits a vote. H. 3243 would allow DACA-recipients and victims of trafficking to access professional licenses, including nursing and cosmetology.

South Carolina Senate Bill (S.B.) 24, introduced on January 12, 2021, would allow individuals with lawful presence in the U.S., including DACA recipients, to be eligible for occupational or professional licensure in the state provided other licensure requirements are met. The bill would also provide DACA recipients with access to in-state tuition and some state financial aid.

Effective Practices and State Resources

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

  • Policy

    Rethinking Tuition for Undocumented Students Through ITAs

    The report examines whether inter-state tuition agreements can expand access to higher education for undocumented students.

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  • 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