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Undocumented College Students in the United States: In-State Tuition Not Enough to Ensure Four-Year Degree Completion, Working Paper 050 Open Access

This brief review the literature on undocumented college students in the U.S. and provides a comparison of the performance of undocumented students to that of U.S. citizens and other legal migrants using restricted-access data from one of the largest urban public university systems in the U.S. where many undocumented students are eligible for in-state tuition. Overall, undocumented students perform well in the short-term, earning higher grades and highers rates of course and associate degree completion than their U.S. citizen counterparts. But undocumented students are less likely to earn their bachelor's degrees within four years. This finding suggests that, despite their earlier college successes and their access to in-state tuition rates, at some point after enrollment, undocumented students experience higher costs to completing their bachelor's degrees than they had anticipated upon enrollment. We offer a number of policy considerations for university officials and policymakers who aim to help undocumented college students succeed in postsecondary institutions.

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