Over 75,000 undocumented students are enrolled in California public colleges and universities.

undocumented students graduate from California high schools each year

of undocumented students pursue higher education, and far fewer successfully graduate with a degree

of over 48,000 CA DREAM Act applicants received a Cal Grant award

*These data points are estimates provided by California higher education systems.

About the Coalition

California is home to more than two million undocumented immigrants and conservative estimates find that approximately 75,000 undocumented students are enrolled in California’s public higher education systems. Losing, or even underutilizing, these talented students poses a threat to our state’s workforce and economy, as California needs an additional 1.65 million college-educated workers by 2030. Undocumented students are raised in our communities, attend our public schools, and abide by our laws. Supporting undocumented students in achieving their college dreams supports both California’s economy and its values.

The California Undocumented Higher Education Coalition was established as a response to the national uncertainty and aversive climate facing undocumented students. The coalition, composed of educators, civil rights, business, philanthropy, students, and community-based groups, works to strengthen California’s workforce and economy by ensuring college access and success for undocumented youth in the state.

The Coalition aims to:

  1. Lead policy advocacy efforts that increase access and provide resources that support undocumented students’ persistence in higher education.
  1. Work with colleges and universities to ensure they provide consistent and adequate resources and support services for undocumented students.
  1. Strengthen communications to undocumented students so that critical messaging effectively reaches them about their rights, their ability to attend college, and access to financial aid.

Over 820,000 individuals have received DACA since it was implemented in 2012.

of DACA recipients across the country are either in school or currently employed
billion. The amount DACA recipients will contribute to the U.S GDP over the next decade
DACA recipients reside in California

*These data points are estimates provided by California higher education systems.


Coalition Areas of Work

Undocumented students face unique challenges that require innovative and equitable policy responses. The Coalition engages in state-level advocacy to identify opportunities where California can further expand supports for undocumented students on college campuses, with a focus on ensuring reliable access to legal services, learning opportunities, and financial aid.

The Coalition continues to call for a permanent legislative solution to ensure that undocumented students are provided long-term security and an opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship, which could make them eligible for federal student aid.

Learn more about the Coalition’s policy priorities.

Read our latest brief: Higher Education Affordability for Undocumented Students in California

While California has established statewide programs so undocumented students can safely apply for financial aid, such as California Dream Act, there is a lack of coordination and consistency in how these and other resources are made available to students. The resources vary widely across campuses, and can even be different within the same segment of higher education. This can often confuse or misinform students about critical information. Colleges and universities need to ensure they provide consistent and adequate information and support services for undocumented students that are readily available on their campuses.

The Coalition works with students, educational leaders, and partners to identify needs and gaps in services, and offer direct recommendations to institutions for improving the types of information and support services available. Having one person in each higher education system, for example, who coordinates resources for undocumented students across their respective systems would be effective for collecting data and providing a consistent message across the campus. These system coordinators can support individual campus liaisons and share system-wide updates.

Use our California Undocumented Student Resources Tool to find campus resources across the state.

Communication is vital to relieving some of the fear and anxiety that undocumented students experience. Without timely and accurate information and updates, students risk missing critical opportunities to access financial aid, apply for DACA, or utilize other resources.

The Coalition works to strengthen campus communications so that critical messaging effectively reaches students about their legal rights, access to financial aid, and their ability to attend and succeed in college. Key to the development of communications and messaging is the contributions of student voices. The Coalition has formalized a Student Advisory Committee that helps inform this area of work.

Click here for additional information.

Coalition Members








Leticia A. Network