This state page integrates student data, economic contributions, state policies, effective practices, and other resources to learn about and better support the state’s undocumented, other immigrant, and international students in higher education.
We classify Wisconsin as a Restrictive state in terms of inclusive in-state tuition and state financial aid policies for undocumented students. The Portal tracks state policies for undocumented students on in-state tuition, state financial aid, professional and occupational licensure, and driver licenses.
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 Wisconsin||336,000|
|First-Generation Immigrant Students||12,000|
|Second-Generation Immigrant Students||14,000|
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 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 Education||11,433|
|Economic Contributions of International Students in the State||$337.2 million|
|Jobs Supported by International Students in the State||3,849|
|Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants||1,271|
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 Wisconsin||292,976|
|Immigrant Share of Total Population||5%|
|Undocumented Immigrants in State||75,669|
|DACA-Eligible Residents in State||10,517|
|Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents||$181.3 million|
|DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions||$25 million|
|DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions||$23.4 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 Immigrants||9.8%|
|Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants||4.1%|
|Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants||5.6%|
|First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools||11,631|
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).
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
Restrictive: Policies actively bar access to in-state tuition or state financial aid for the state's undocumented students, including DACA recipients.
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.
Wisconsin prohibits undocumented students, including DACA recipients, from accessing in-state tuition and state financial aid. The state does not appear to have policies that extend occupational and professional licensure to undocumented individuals, including DACA recipients. However, Wisconsin has expanded access to in-state tuition for eligible refugee students.
Wisconsin does not provide undocumented residents with access to driver licenses and state identification.
Wisconsin Assembly Bill (A.B.) 40, signed into law on June 18, 2011, effectively bars undocumented students, including DACA recipients, from accessing in-state tuition. The bill revoked previous legislation that granted in-state tuition to undocumented students.
Wisconsin Senate Bill (S.B.) 360, signed into law on April 14, 1992, states that refugees may be considered residents of Wisconsin for in-state tuition at Wisconsin Vocational, Technical and Adult Education (VTAE) schools if they meet the following requirements: 1) are defined as a refugee by federal law; 2) moved to Wisconsin immediately upon arrival in the United States; and 3) has continuously resided in Wisconsin since then, if he or she demonstrates an intent to establish and maintain a permanent home in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin does not have policies that expand access to state financial aid to undocumented students.
Wisconsin’s A.B. 40 revoked previous legislation that allowed some of the state’s undocumented students 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 Wisconsin, 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).
Wisconsin does not appear to have statewide legislation that affirmatively extends occupational and professional licensure to undocumented individuals, including DACA recipients.
Undocumented immigrants in Wisconsin do not have access to a driver license or state identification card. Assembly Bill (A.B.) 69, signed into law on April 1, 2007, requires individuals applying for or renewing a Wisconsin driver license or state identification card to provide evidence of U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status.
DACA recipients in Wisconsin are allowed to obtain a driver license or state identification card.
Effective Practices and State Resources
Spotlight on effective practices and policy, research, or community-based state resources.
Tuition Equity Policy Brief for Wisconsin
This brief includes an overview of undocumented students in higher education, history of tuition equity initiatives, and it contextualizes the current state and institutional policies in Wisconsin.Continue Reading
Rethinking Tuition for Undocumented Students Through ITAs
The report examines whether inter-state tuition agreements can expand access to higher education for undocumented students.Continue Reading
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