Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of our most fre­quent­ly asked ques­tion from undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents, DACA recip­i­ents, edu­ca­tors, fam­i­ly mem­bers, and com­mu­ni­ty stake­hold­ers.

Yes. If a stu­dent is inter­est­ed in pur­su­ing high­er edu­ca­tion, they are allowed to apply to pub­lic and pri­vate col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties and, if accept­ed, enroll as stu­dents. In Ten­nessee, there are no laws or poli­cies pro­hibit­ing undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents from enrolling in col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty.

For stu­dents con­sid­er­ing apply­ing to col­leges out of state, it is impor­tant to know that enroll­ment poli­cies vary state-to-state. There are cur­rent­ly two states (Alaba­ma and South Car­oli­na) that express­ly pro­hibit the enroll­ment of undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents in pub­lic insti­tu­tions. Addi­tion­al­ly, three states (Ari­zona, Geor­gia, and Indi­ana) pro­hibit undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents from access­ing in-state tuition rates at pub­lic col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties. When advis­ing stu­dents on col­lege options out-of-state, it is best to be aware of the enroll­ment poli­cies in place at each state. Learn more here.

If a stu­dent is undoc­u­ment­ed or has DACA, they do not qual­i­fy for fed­er­al OR state finan­cial aid. To receive fed­er­al finan­cial aid, a stu­dent must be a U.S. cit­i­zen, a legal per­ma­nent res­i­dent, or an eli­gi­ble non-cit­i­zen. Undoc­u­ment­ed and DACA­ment­ed stu­dents are not eli­gi­ble for the PELL grant, or for any fed­er­al stu­dent loans.

In Ten­nessee, undoc­u­ment­ed or DACA­ment­ed stu­dents do not qual­i­fy for state finan­cial aid. This includes the Ten­nessee Promise pro­gram and the Ten­nessee HOPE schol­ar­ship.

No. Ten­nessee has not passed any state law or pol­i­cy that would allow undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents to access in-state tuition rates at pub­lic insti­tu­tions. As of now, undoc­u­ment­ed or DACA­ment­ed stu­dents in Ten­nessee must pay out-of-state tuition rates.

Our part­ners, The Ten­nessee Immi­grant and Refugee Rights Coali­tion (TIRRC), lead the Tuition Oppor­tu­ni­ty Cam­paign, which is a move­ment to pass a bill through the Ten­nessee leg­is­la­ture allow­ing undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents access to in-state tuition rates. Vis­it their web­site to learn more about the cam­paign and ways to get involved. 

As edu­ca­tors, it is impor­tant to know that while you may be ready to help your undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents, they may not be ready to dis­close their sta­tus to you or their peers. Stu­dents are also not oblig­at­ed to share their cit­i­zen­ship infor­ma­tion, and edu­ca­tors do not have the right to ask. Stu­dents should vol­un­teer this infor­ma­tion. How­ev­er, there are ways to ensure that you are reach­ing your stu­dents who may not have dis­closed their sta­tus to you. As you review col­lege options, we encour­age you to always make men­tion of the path­way for undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents.

For exam­ple, when dis­cussing the dif­fer­ence between a pub­lic and pri­vate insti­tu­tion, this would be a good time to men­tion that in Ten­nessee, undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents pay out-of-state rates at pub­lic insti­tu­tions. Also, if you high­light col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties, high­light­ing some that we have iden­ti­fied as undoc­u­ment­ed-friend­ly can help stu­dents learn about ways to finance their edu­ca­tion. You could also con­sid­er vis­i­bly dis­play­ing a list of schol­ar­ships that undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents can apply for, with tips on what to know as an undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dent.

Pro­vid­ing as much infor­ma­tion as pos­si­ble, with­out direct­ly tar­get­ing or call­ing out stu­dents, is the best way to make them feel com­fort­able enough to look to you for advice. 

The Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) pro­gram is an exec­u­tive order announced by Pres­i­dent Oba­ma in 2012. DACA allows cer­tain young peo­ple, often referred to as Dream­ers, who came to the Unit­ed States as chil­dren to qual­i­fy for pro­tec­tion from depor­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings and remain in the coun­try. Young peo­ple who are approved for DACA receive a social secu­ri­ty num­ber to be able to obtain employ­ment and in some states — includ­ing Ten­nessee — can get a driver’s license. DACA pro­vides pro­tec­tion for two years, and indi­vid­u­als can reap­ply when close to their expi­ra­tion date.

On Tues­day Sep­tem­ber 5,  2017, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Ses­sions announced that the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion will rescind the DACA pro­gram. (To learn more about what the end of DACA means vis­it, our DACA infor­ma­tion page.)

The end of the DACA pro­gram does not mean that stu­dents will no longer be able to apply or enroll in col­lege. This does not change enroll­ment options (see ques­tion one).

Stu­dents may be most impact­ed by the loss of reprieve from depor­ta­tion and the expi­ra­tion of their work per­mit. A stu­dents DACA and work per­mit will remain valid until the expi­ra­tion date, but after that date a stu­dent will no longer have pro­tect­ed sta­tus or the legal right to work. After the expi­ra­tion of their DACA, stu­dents will return to a sta­tus of being undoc­u­ment­ed. This could poten­tial­ly put them at risk of depor­ta­tion. Addi­tion­al­ly, once their work per­mits expire stu­dents can­not legal­ly con­tin­ue to work. If a stu­dent is rely­ing on a job to finance their edu­ca­tion, the end of DACA could have sig­nif­i­cant con­se­quences for that stu­dent.

Here are a few tips to help you be an ally for undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents in the class­room: 

  • Learn the cor­rect ter­mi­nol­o­gy, and why it mat­ters. Use terms like “undoc­u­ment­ed” when refer­ring to your stu­dents that do not have legal sta­tus. Refrain from using dehu­man­iz­ing terms like “ille­gal” or “alien.”
  • Do the heavy lift of learn­ing more about the his­to­ry of immi­gra­tion in the Unit­ed States and why some peo­ple, includ­ing your stu­dents, are undoc­u­ment­ed.
  • Be inter­sec­tion­al in your sup­port for stu­dents: Don’t assume all your Lati­no stu­dents are undoc­u­ment­ed or that only your Lati­no stu­dents are undoc­u­ment­ed. The undoc­u­ment­ed com­mu­ni­ty is made up of Blacks, Asians, East-Euro­peans, and oth­ers.
  • Dis­play images of sup­port for your stu­dents, includ­ing infor­ma­tion for them on how to apply to col­lege.
  • Incor­po­rate self-care tech­niques into your class­room activ­i­ty. Can you take 5 min­utes a week to teach your class breath­ing tech­niques or oth­er ways to han­dle stress? There is unspo­ken anx­i­ety and fear in the immi­grant com­mu­ni­ty, and your undoc­u­ment­ed and DACA­ment­ed stu­dents may need help pro­cess­ing their emo­tions in a healthy way.
  • Has your school, school dis­trict, school board, col­lege, or uni­ver­si­ty put out a state­ment of sup­port for your undoc­u­ment­ed and DACA­ment­ed edu­ca­tors and stu­dents? If not, can you advo­cate for them to do so? 

You can also uti­lize our Dream Act Lessons & Resource Guide for a cul­tur­al­ly com­pe­tent man­ner of incor­po­rat­ing cur­rent themes into your class­room dis­cus­sions.

Remem­ber, undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents CAN go to col­lege. Famil­iar­ize your­self with the tuition land­scape, and with the finan­cial aid and schol­ar­ship oppor­tu­ni­ties for undoc­u­ment­ed and DACA­ment­ed stu­dents. Use our undoc­u­ment­ed-friend­ly schools map and our infor­ma­tion about financ­ing col­lege to under­stand the land­scape for undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents, and con­sid­er hav­ing a print­ed list of schol­ar­ship options for stu­dents who ask. 

Also keep in mind that undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents may be the first in their fam­i­ly to go to col­lege in the Unit­ed States. Ensure that they are aware of and com­fort­able with the process, and check-in with them often to ensure they are suc­cess­ful­ly nav­i­gat­ing the process.

The Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) pro­gram is an exec­u­tive order announced by Pres­i­dent Oba­ma in 2012. DACA allows cer­tain young peo­ple, often referred to as Dream­ers, who came to the Unit­ed States as chil­dren to qual­i­fy for pro­tec­tion from depor­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings and remain in the coun­try. Young peo­ple who are approved for DACA receive a social secu­ri­ty num­ber to be able to obtain employ­ment and in some states — includ­ing Ten­nessee — can get a driver’s license. DACA pro­vides pro­tec­tion for two years, and indi­vid­u­als can reap­ply when close to their expi­ra­tion date.

Over its five year his­to­ry, DACA has allowed almost 800,000 young peo­ple to pur­sue high­er edu­ca­tion, earn bet­ter wager, own homes, start busi­ness­es, and more. In Ten­nessee, over 8,300 young peo­ple have received DACA.

On June 29, 2017, Tex­as led nine attor­neys gen­er­al — includ­ing Tennessee’s Her­bert Slat­tery III — in send­ing a let­ter to Pres­i­dent Trump and Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Ses­sions giv­ing Trump a dead­line to ter­mi­nate the DACA pro­gram by Sep­tem­ber 5, 2017 or they would file a law­suit. It is wide­ly expect­ed that Pres­i­dent Trump will ter­mi­nate the pro­gram before Sep­tem­ber 5, 2017. DACA, as an exec­u­tive order, can be ter­mi­nat­ed at any time with­out the need for con­gres­sion­al approval. DACA was passed as a tem­po­rary solu­tion, but pro­vides no long-term path to cit­i­zen­ship. End­ing DACA will not fix our bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem, only an act of Con­gress can do that. In recog­ni­tion of the threat to DACA, and the short-term nature of the pro­gram, leg­is­la­tion has been intro­duced in Con­gress to provide a more per­ma­nent pro­tec­tion and a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for young immi­grants.

On Fri­day, Sep­tem­ber 1, 2017, Tennessee’s Attor­ney Gen­er­al removed his name from the pend­ing law­suit, instead urg­ing Con­gress to act on the issue by vot­ing on the bipar­ti­san DREAM Act of 2017.

Sim­i­lar­ly, Speak­er of the House Paul Ryan along with about ten GOP mem­bers Con­gress, have called on Pres­i­dent Trump not to end DACA and allow Con­gress to pur­sue a per­ma­nent solu­tion.

On Tues­day Sep­tem­ber 5, 2017, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Ses­sions announced that Pres­i­dent Trump will end the DACA pro­gram.

Pres­i­dent Trump announced that the DACA pro­gram will end, but that there will be a “wind-down peri­od” of six-months. Things to know about the end of DACA:

  • DACA and work per­mits are still valid, and will remain so until their expi­ra­tion date. 
  • Unit­ed States Cit­i­zen­ship and Immi­gra­tion Ser­vices (USCIS) will process ini­tial and renewal appli­ca­tions that have been filed before Sep­tem­ber 5, 2017.
  • USCIS will not accept new first-time DACA appli­ca­tions filed after Sep­tem­ber 5, 2017.
  • USCIS will con­tin­ue pro­cess­ing first-time and renewal appli­ca­tions that were accept­ed by Sep­tem­ber 5, 2017.
  • DACA recip­i­ents whose DACA and work per­mits expire between now and March 5, 2018, can apply for renewal as long as they sub­mit their appli­ca­tion by Octo­ber 5, 2017.
  • Any renewal appli­ca­tions for DACA expi­ra­tion dates after March 5, 2018 will not be accept­ed.
  • The Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty (DHS) will no longer allow DACA recip­i­ents to trav­el out of the coun­try through the Advance Parole pro­gram. All pend­ing Advance Parole appli­ca­tions will be reject­ed and all fees will be returned.

If you have DACA, this may an over­whelm­ing moment. Conex­ión Améri­c­as and our part­ners will provide as much infor­ma­tion in the com­ing weeks as pos­si­ble to provide sup­port and infor­ma­tion. For now, it is impor­tant to know that:

  • Work per­mits are valid until they expire or the gov­ern­ment demands they be returned. As the DACA pro­grams ends and you are allowed to keep your work per­mit, you have the right to work legal­ly until your work per­mit expires. Your employ­er does not have the right to fire you, put you on leave, or change your work sta­tus until your work per­mit expires.
  • Your Social Secu­ri­ty Num­ber is a valid num­ber for life, even once your DACA and work per­mit expires. You can still use your SSN for edu­ca­tion, bank­ing, and oth­er pur­pos­es.
  • In Ten­nessee, you can get a driver’s license if you have DACA. If you have not yet done so, apply for your driver’s license while your DACA remains valid.
  • You may be eli­gi­ble for anoth­er immi­gra­tion option. Con­tact Conex­ión Améri­c­as (615.320.5152) to sched­ule an appoint­ment for an immi­gra­tion screen­ing or a refer­ral to a trust­ed immi­gra­tion lawyer. 

If your DACA expires before March 5, 2018. You have until Octo­ber 5, 2017 to sub­mit your appli­ca­tion to reap­ply. We advise you see an immi­gra­tion attor­ney or BIA accred­it­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tive to help with your renewal process.

If you have DACA and your per­mit expires before March 5, 2018 and you need help pay­ing the $495 appli­ca­tion fee, Mis­sion Asset Fund is offer­ing FREE SCHOLARSHIPS to help Dream­ers pay the fee. 

In Ten­nessee, los­ing your DACA will not affect your changes of enrolling in high­er edu­ca­tion. Ten­nessee does not have any state laws or poli­cies that lim­it or pro­hibit enroll­ment. Stu­dents can con­tin­ue apply­ing to col­lege with or with­out their DACA sta­tus. 

If you are cur­rent­ly a DACA recip­i­ent and your DACA and work per­mit will expire before you fin­ish your school­ing, make a plan to speak to a finan­cial advi­sor and point peo­ple for any oth­er schol­ar­ships you have. Here are some ques­tions you can ask them:

  • Does my finan­cial aid depend on my DACA sta­tus? Will I be able to keep my finan­cial aid even if I lose my DACA sta­tus?
  • Will my schol­ar­ship con­tin­ue even if I no longer have DACA? Will it be avail­able to me until I have com­plet­ed my degree?
  • Are there oth­er schol­ar­ships I can apply for as an undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dent once I no longer have DACA?

Your work per­mit is valid until its expi­ra­tion date. That means you are autho­rized to work until your per­mit expires. Your employ­er does not have the right to let you go due to your DACA sta­tus before your expi­ra­tion date.

Addi­tion­al advice and FAQs from the Nation­al Immi­gra­tion Law Cen­ter on DACA and employ­ment.