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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 Texas1,644,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students162,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students396,000
International Students70,223

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 Education58,255
DACA-Eligible Students in Higher Education30,850
Non-DACA Eligible Students in Higher Education27,405
Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year17,000

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

International students comprise only 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 Education70,223
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$1.8 billion
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State18,391
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants22,870

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 Texas4,948,998
Immigrant Share of Total Population17.1%
Undocumented Immigrants in State1,746,465
DACA-Eligible Residents in State204,453
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents$3.235 billion
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions$509 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions$454.4 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 Immigrants27.5%
Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants20.4%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants24.1%
DACA recipients in STEM or Health Professions4,478
DACA recipients in Education (K-12, Higher Education, Education Industry)7,310
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools72,393
Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential43%

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 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

    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

Texas provides eligible undocumented 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.

Texas does not provide undocumented residents with access to driver licenses and state identification.

In-State Tuition

Texas House Bill (H.B.) 1403, signed into law on June 16, 2001, provides the state’s eligible undocumented students, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition.

The bill allows the state’s undocumented students to qualify for Texas residency, providing access to in-state tuition, if they meet certain requirements, including:

  1. Graduated from a public or private high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in Texas;
  2. Resided in Texas for at least three years as of the date the person graduated from high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma;
  3. Register as an entering student in an institution of higher education not earlier than the 2001 fall semester; and,
  4. Provide an affidavit stating that the individual will file an application to become a permanent resident at the earliest opportunity the individual is eligible to do so.

In April 2022, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the University of North Texas cannot charge out-of-state U.S. students higher tuition than is charged to undocumented Texas students, who qualify for in-state tuition rates as per the 2001 Texas law.  UNT lawyers have appealed the decision.  While the decision does not directly impact undocumented students, it could have significant implications for the future of the 2001 law.

State Financial Aid

Texas House Bill (H.B.) 1403, signed into law on June 16, 2001, also provides eligible undocumented students, including DACA recipients, with access to state financial aid, including state grants and state higher education loans.

Undocumented students must meet the same criteria required for in-state tuition under H.B. 1403 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 Texas, the following institutions are TheDream.US Partner Colleges:

  • San Antonio College;
  • Texas A&M University San Antonio;
  • University of Houston;
  • University of North Texas at Dallas;
  • University of Texas at El Paso; and,
  • University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Professional & Occupational Licensure

Texas does not appear to have statewide legislation that affirmatively extends occupational and professional licensure to undocumented individuals.

Driver Licenses

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

DACA recipients in Texas 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

    Student Narrative: Hector Robledo

    Hector Robledo works as an Academic Support Associate for students at the University of North Texas at Dallas, where he is also a graduate student. This narrative shares the story of how his work and experiences allow him to provide support and empathy to students, particularly those with a similar background.

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  • Narrative

    Student Narrative: Daniela Castillo Zapata

    Daniela Castillo is a graduate of the University of Houston with a dual degree in Science in Nursing and Psychology and is currently a Registered Nurse at Texas Children’s Hospital and works in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Her immigrant experience allows her to give patients a unique experience and give back to her community.

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  • Narrative

    Student Narrative: Jorge Contreras

    Jorge Contreras is a bilingual medical assistant; this post shares how his background and bilingual abilities allow him to interact with his patients and better assist the physicians in treating them.

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Effective Practices and State Resources

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

  • Research

    Report: The Post-DACA Generation is Here

    A new report finds that an estimated 100,000 undocumented students will graduate from high school in 2022, with most of them not eligible for DACA. The new FWD.us report, published in May 2022, The Post-DACA Generation is Here, explains how DACA’s unavailability impacts undocumented youth in the U.S.

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  • 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.

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  • Effective Practice

    Walking the Talk: How University Communities Can Foster Opportunities for Refugee Students

    Case examples of higher education initiatives that alleviate barriers to higher education for refugee students.

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