United We Dream Student Guidebook

United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led network in the country that creates welcoming, supporting, engaging, and empowering spaces for young people—regardless of immigration status. The organization is a hub of resources on DACA, Deportation Defense, Immigrant Rights, and other topics pertinent to youth of diverse immigration statuses.

One of the main issues that undocumented youth face is the issue of college access and college retention. While action has been taken in recent years to reduce barriers for undocumented and differently-documented students when going to college or attaining higher education, there is still a massive gap to fill. Nowadays, 62.8% of all recent high school graduates matriculate into college, but only 5-10% recent undocumented high school graduates matriculate to college.

Furthermore, undocumented students tend to face unique challenges while they are in college that make it more difficult for them to graduate. It is clear that massive improvement is needed to make sure that undocumented students receive the right to the same level of education as other students in the country.

Through a compilation of interviews with university administration and undocumented students as well as secondary research, our team found four main challenges that become main obstacles for undocumented students when navigating college: 1) lack of specialized support and organized communication about resources for undocumented students; 2) legal and financial barriers to receiving opportunities while enrolled; 3) challenges associated with being a first-gen, low- income and/or BIPOC student along with being undocumented; 4) the lack of consideration for the challenges faced by undocumented/differently-documented students from outside Latin America.

In response to this problem, our team has created this guide for undocumented and differently-documented college students and their families to inform them of where they can seek assistance and how they can fight for themselves on-campus. We hope to make this guide as accessible as possible to encourage students to seek out supports, create community, and advocate for their needs. We imagine a world where students can access the fullness of college, regardless of citizenship status, in order to equip themselves with the tools, knowledge, and resources to achieve their goals.


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