California Undocumented Higher Education Coalition

Approximately 100,000 undocumented students are enrolled in California’s public and independent colleges and universities.

The California Undocumented Higher Education Coalition was established with one shared value: all students in California deserve the opportunity to obtain an affordable college education in their pursuit of the California dream, whether documented or not.

In 2016, over thirty education, civil rights, business, philanthropic, student, and community-based groups came together in response to national uncertainty and an averse political climate facing undocumented students. The Coalition was established with the goal of ensuring that the over 75,000 undocumented students enrolled in California’s public and independent colleges and universities are protected and supported by state policy and higher education systems. The Coalition is committed to leading bold policy advocacy efforts and elevating campus resources and support services for undocumented students.

Key Facts

These data points are estimates provided by California higher education systems

Policy Advocacy

The Coalition calls for a permanent federal solution that ensures all undocumented and immigrant students are afforded long-term security, access to federal aid, and opportunity for U.S. citizenship a priority. At the state level, we support innovative and equitable policy solutions to the barriers and challenges undocumented students face, including:

Addressing Student’s Financial Needs

  • Because undocumented students are ineligible for any form of federal financial aid, they face unique challenges in covering college expenses. California has established eligibility for resident tuition/fee rates and some forms of financial aid for many undocumented students, but still leaves students with a major gap to cover themselves. The Coalition is dedicated to policy that provides undocumented students with all aid they are eligible to receive.

Bridging Information and Resource Gaps

  • While California has established statewide programs to support undocumented students, there is a lack of coordination and consistency in how these and other resources are made available. The Coalition works with partners to identify needs, gaps in services available, and connect campuses with interested funders who can help bridge the gaps. We believe that California should uplift policy that guarantees students at every California college and university has a dedicated liaison to support and inform their college goals.

Providing Meaningful Opportunities Outside the Classroom

  • Many undocumented students encounter difficulty in finding opportunities that build their professional skills and resumes due to their legal status. The Coalition supports efforts that empower undocumented students to develop career skillsets, such as the recently established California Dream Act Service Incentive Grant program, which provides undocumented students with a grant in return for volunteer or community service hours.

Campus Resources and Support Services

Access to consistent and adequate resources and support services is imperative for undocumented students’ success. The Coalition coordinates with California colleges and universities to streamline these resources, monitors policy implementation at the system and college levels, supports practitioners to adopt best practices while implementing policy, and connects students to existing resources. 

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Undocumented Students
Resources Map

Find resources at UC, CSU, California Community Colleges, and private, nonprofit college/university campuses.


Coalition Members