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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 Wisconsin336,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students12,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students14,000
International Students11,949

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 Education11,949
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$399.4 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State4,092
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants1,271

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 Wisconsin292,976
Immigrant Share of Total Population5%
Undocumented Immigrants in State75,669
DACA-Eligible Residents in State10,517
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 Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants4.1%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants5.6%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools11,631
Share of First-Generation Immigrants With a Postsecondary Credential47%

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

    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.

Enacted Policies

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.

 

In-State Tuition

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.

State Financial Aid

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).
Professional & Occupational Licensure

Wisconsin 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 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.

  • 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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  • Policy

    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.

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  • 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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