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How Can Universities Foster Educational Equity for Undocumented College Students: Lessons from the University of California

Dr. Laura E. Enriquez, Dr. Edelina M. Burciaga, Tadria Cardenas, Biblia Cha, Vanessa Delgado, Miroslava Guzman Perez, Daniel Millán, Maria Mireles, Martha Morales Hernandez, Dr. Annie Ro, Daisy Vazquez Vera

January 19, 2019

Publications, Young Workers, Policy Brief


"Undocumented students face a multitude of barriers when pursuing higher education. This report examines what universities can do to promote the educational equity of undocumented students. We focus on the University of California system, nine undergraduate educational institutions that have supportive institutional policies and are located in a state that offers access to in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid.

Drawing on focus groups and interviews with 214 undocumented University of California undergraduate students and an original survey with 508 respondents, we outline how these educational institutions have successfully closed some resource gaps by creating undocumented student programs. We then explore four persisting barriers: financial need, academic distraction, mental health, and limited postgraduate preparation. We end by outlining policy recommendations. We anticipate that the barriers we outline here are dramatically higher in institutional contexts where there are no undocumented student programs and states where there is no access to in-state tuition and/or financial aid. Furthermore, students who have employment authorization via the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs will face increased exclusion as these discretionary programs are dismantled by President Trump’s administration."

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