Information for Educators

As edu­ca­tors, you are on the front lines of help­ing stu­dents and their fam­i­lies under­stand their options dur­ing the com­pli­cat­ed process of col­lege appli­ca­tion. You may also be work­ing with stu­dents –or for­mer stu­dents — who are direct­ly impact­ed by pol­i­cy deci­sions that may put them or their fam­i­lies at risk. As a Coali­tion, our goal is to ensure that you are equipped with accu­rate, up-to-date infor­ma­tion and resources to share with your stu­dents and col­leagues. The fol­low­ing infor­ma­tion address­es the most fre­quent­ly asked ques­tions by edu­ca­tors, and what edu­ca­tors need to know to sup­port their undoc­u­ment­ed and DACA­ment­ed stu­dents.

Can undocumented students go to college in Tennessee? What if my student is looking for out-of-state options?

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.

Do undocumented students qualify for state financial aid or federal financial aid?

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.

Do my undocumented students qualify for in-state resident tuition rates in Tennessee?

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.

What are some things I can do to help my students understand their college options?

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. 

What is DACA? What does the change to DACA mean for my students?

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: DACA 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.

What are some things I can do as an educator to support my undocumented students?

A few tips to help you be an ally and advo­cate for your undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents:

  • 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.

I am a college advisor, how can I help undocumented students apply for college and financial aid?

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 page and the financ­ing col­lege page 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.

What other options are available for undocumented students in Tennessee?

Three oth­er options undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents can con­sid­er are Ten­nessee Col­leges of Applied Tech­nol­o­gy, Ten­nessee e-cam­pus, and pur­su­ing high­er edu­ca­tion in Ken­tucky. 

  • Ten­nessee Col­lege of Applied Tech­nol­o­gy (TCAT) : TCAT’s do not have out- of-state tuition rates, there­fore undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents pay the same rates as all oth­er admit­ted stu­dents. TCAT pro­grams of study include: auto­mo­tive tech­nol­o­gy, avi­a­tion main­te­nance, den­tal assist­ing, cos­me­tol­ogy, ear­ly child­hood edu­ca­tion, med­ical assis­tant, prac­ti­cal nurs­ing, among oth­ers. 
  • TN E-Cam­pus: The TN E-Cam­pus is a resource for access­ing online pro­grams and cours­es offered by Ten­nessee Board of Regents (TBR) insti­tu­tions. Insti­tu­tions include uni­ver­si­ties, com­mu­ni­ty col­leges, and TCATs. Undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents must pay out-of- state tuition rates to take the­se cours­es. 
  • Ken­tucky: Ken­tucky and Ten­nessee estab­lished an agree­ment in 2007 that allows some insti­tu­tions in one state to offer in-state tuition to stu­dents from anoth­er state. The agree­ment is impor­tant for undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents, since Ken­tucky offers in-state tuition rates to undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents. Stu­dents must live in a cer­tain coun­ty to access the ben­e­fits of the agree­ment.