Despite uncertainty, DACA students persevering in college

Students with DACA status are managing not only to enroll into college but also to stay enrolled “often at higher rates than their U.S.-citizen counterparts,” according to The Hechinger Report. The DACA—or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—program protects eligible immigrant youth who came to the United States when they were children from deportation and has had a “precarious future” since President Donald Trump’s election.

Despite the many obstacles that DACA students face—for instance, they’re ineligible for federal loans and grants, and 26 states have passed legislation barring DACA students from paying in-state tuition at public universities and colleges—DACA students have demonstrated a desire to enroll and persist in higher education. Nearly two-thirds of DACA students pursue educational opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have without DACA status, according to a national survey.

Organizations and private funders have stepped up to support these pursuits and have seen growing interest. Molly Haynes, executive director of Tennessee-based Equal Chance for Education, which gives scholarships to students with DACA and TPS, told The Hechinger Report that applications had doubled from 152 to 300 across the last year, and the organization nearly doubled its budget during that time-frame. Meanwhile, TheDream.US, which calls itself the largest national organization offering scholarships to DACA recipients, reports a 29 percent increase in scholarship applications. TheDream.US’s president says that 94 percent of the organization’s scholarship recipients “stayed in school from freshman to sophomore years,” a rate more than 30 percentage points higher than the national average.

The Hechinger Report notes that such persistence “come[s] at a cost for DACA students, especially in terms of mental health.” To address this, many of the schools participating in the Presidents’ Alliance, a group of 340 higher education leaders committed to supporting undocumented students, are working to make mental health support more widely available.

As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, Georgetown values the dignity of all members of our university community, regardless of immigration status, and has committed to supporting undocumented students and the unique challenges they may face. Watch this video to learn more and visit

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