Logo for: President's Alliance Higher Education & Immigration

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 Texas1,661,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students226,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students427,000
International Students80,757

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 in Higher Education56,535
DACA-Eligible Students in Higher Education19,137
Non-DACA Eligible Students in Higher Education37,398
Undocumented Students Graduating High School Each Year18,000

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 Education80,757
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$2.2 billion
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State21,568
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 Texas5,155,100
Immigrant Share of Total Population17.2%
Undocumented Immigrants in State1,651,000
DACA-Eligible Residents in State146,500
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents$3.3 billion
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions$529.1 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions$447.6 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 Immigrants28.4%
Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants20.3%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants24.3%
DACA recipients in STEM or Health Professions8,238
DACA recipients in Education (K-12, Higher Education, Education Industry)5,351
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools67,160
Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential39%

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

    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.

Refugee In-State Tuition: Texas Education Code Sec. 54.052 indicates that refugees are eligible for in-state tuition after establishing residency 

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.

Texas extends financial aid to both public and private postsecondary institutions.

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 Texas, the following institutions are TheDream.US Partner Colleges:

  • San Antonio College (Public)
  • Texas A&M University San Antonio (Public)
  • University of Houston (Public)
  • University of North Texas at Dallas (Public)
  • University of Texas at El Paso (Public)
  • University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (Public)
  • University of St. Thomas (Private)
Professional & Occupational Licensure

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

Texas 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 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.

Narratives

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: Juan Piña Hernandez

    Juan Pina Hernandez is an Operations Lead for H-E-B Grocery Company in South Texas. Learn how his experiences as a Dreamer allow him to be a great resource to his community.

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  • 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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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.

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  • Research

    Undocumented Students in Higher Education

    The new estimates show there are more than 408, 000 undocumented students enrolled in postsecondary education, representing about 1.9 percent of all postsecondary students. This estimate represents a decrease of 4.2 percent from 2019, when 427,000 undocumented students were enrolled.

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  • 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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