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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 Utah360,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students10,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students17,000
International Students9,233

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.

Share of All Students in Higher Education Who Are Undocumented1.8%

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 Education9,233
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$251.7 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State2,380
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants1,130

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 Utah272,134
Immigrant Share of Total Population8.5%
Undocumented Immigrants in State95,814
DACA-Eligible Residents in State15,920
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents$260.1 million
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions$35.3 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions$25 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 Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants3.8%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants10.4%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools7,817
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

    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

    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

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

In-State Tuition

Utah House Bill (H.B.) 144, signed into law on March 26, 2002, 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 a high school in Utah for three or more years;
  2. Graduate from a Utah high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma (GED) before the start of the school term;
  3. Have not registered for classes prior to the 2002-2003 academic year; and,
  4. Submit an affidavit stating that the student will file an application to legalize immigration status or be willing to file an application when eligible.

Universities will likely require an HB 144 Tuition Waiver Request and will only consider applicants that cannot hold a non-immigrant visa.

Senate Bill (S.B. 111), signed into law on March 30, 2020, reaffirms that undocumented students are able to pay in-state tuition if they file an affidavit with the institution of higher education stating that they have filed an application to legalize their immigration status or will file an application as soon as they are eligible to do so.

The Utah Board of Higher Education unanimously approved a resolution on March 26, 2021 in support of the state’s undocumented and DACA-eligible students. The resolution states, “We embrace and celebrate the diverse cultures, backgrounds, and insights Dreamers, undocumented and DACA-eligible individuals contribute, which elevate the experiences of all students, faculty, staff, and community.” It directs the Utah Board of Higher Education to collaborate with colleges and universities and K-12 partners to, “expand dedicated resources and streamline processes, including but not limited to admissions and enrollment, that support Dreamers, undocumented, and DACA-eligible individuals.”

Refugee In-State Tuition: According to the Utah System of Higher Education Sec R512 an international student who has obtained asylee or refugee status under U.S. immigration law shall be classified for purposes of resident status according to the same criteria applicable to citizens.

 Utah H.B. 102 introduced by Representative Jordan Teuscher passed both the Utah house and senate legislature unanimously this session. This bill allows refugees, SIVs, asylees, asylum seekers, and TPS holders to access in-state tuition rates at Utah colleges and Universities. The Utah Governor signed the Bill Mar 13, 2023.

State Financial Aid

Utah Senate Bill (S.B.) 253, signed into law on March 2015, allows eligible undocumented students, including DACA recipients, to access privately-funded scholarships administered by public universities, regardless of their immigration status.

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

  • The University of Utah.
Professional & Occupational Licensure

The Utah Supreme Court ruled on December 9, 2019 in Rule 14-721 that DACA recipients are eligible for admission to the Utah Bar if they meet all other requirements for admission.

Utah Senate Bill (S.B.) 131, signed into law on March 31, 2015, allows individuals to obtain an occupational therapy license if they have been licensed in another state, U.S. territory, or foreign country and the individual passes the state’s licensing exam. More research is needed to determine whether this bill allows undocumented immigrants who have obtained an occupational therapy license out-of-state to obtain a license in Utah.

Driver Licenses

Undocumented immigrants living in Utah are eligible to obtain a driving privilege card. Senate Bill (S.B.) 227, signed into law on March 8, 2005, allows the state’s undocumented residents to receive a driving privilege card if they do not have a Social Security Number (SSN). Applicants for a driving privilege card must submit documents verifying their identity and Utah residence, and fingerprints to check against local, state, and regional criminal records. The cards must be renewed every year.

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

Proposed Policies

Utah was previously considering legislation that would expand access to in-state tuition for asylee and refugee students.

In-State Tuition

On May 15, 2020, the Utah System of Higher Education amended their state education policies by classifying international students who have obtained asylum or refugee status as Utah residents based on the same criteria applicable to U.S. citizens for in-state tuition purposes. If the refugee or asylee student meets the requirements, they will be eligible to pay in-state tuition.

Utah H.B. 470 was introduced on February 23, 2022, by Representative Jordan Teuscher. This legislation would amend the current Higher Education Residency requirements by classifying any international student, who has applied for asylum or refugee status under United States immigration law, as a resident student for higher education attendance and tuition purposes. In March 2022, this proposed legislation failed to pass the House.

Effective Practices and State Resources

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

  • 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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  • 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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  • Effective Practice

    One Refugee: Supporting Students From Refugee Backgrounds

    This effective practice provides an overview of One Refugee (1R), a nonprofit organization based in Utah, that has made a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of college students from a refugee background.

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