By Jimena Somilleda
In 2012, President Barack Obama implemented the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) as a measure to protect people who were brought into the United States as children from deportation. The protection under DACA lasts for two years and can be renewed. Although this program is not a pathway to citizenship it has provided many DACA recipients with immunity to deportation, health insurance, and access to higher education (Nieto 2020).
However, under the University System of Georgia, DACA and undocumented students are banned from attending a handful of private and public higher education institutions. This policy poses a barrier for many DACA students to pursue higher education.
As of 2012, the University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents Policy 4.1.6 states “a person who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible for admission to any University System institution”. Additionally, the state of Georgia bans undocumented students from attending USG schools such as the University of Georgia, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Although some schools do allow DACA students to make up part of their student body, they oftentimes require these students to pay out-of-state tuition. This can be more than triple the amount their peers pay in tuition at the same institution (Williams 2021). USG policy provides a huge barrier for DACA students to pursue post-secondary education. In addition, the small number of institutions in which DACA students are permitted admission must pay out-of-state tuition. These financial and institutional factors oftentimes make it very difficult and nearly impossible for DACA students in Georgia to pursue higher education.
Although there appear to be many obstacles for DACA students to achieve their goals towards higher education, there is potential for amendments to these policies. In October of 2021, the Georgia State House held a hearing for a pitch to allow DACA students to pay in-state tuition. This would significantly simplify the journey to pursue higher education for DACA students in Georgia (Williams 2021). If this bill were to be approved more than 15,000 students would benefit from this new policy.
Overall, the current policy by the USG inhibits many DACA students from pursuing an education beyond a high school diploma. Many DACA students know the United States to be their only home. However, policies similar to those of the USG marginalize DACA students across the state and prevent many DACA students to pursue professional and academic careers.
Nieto, Giulia Mcdonnel. “What is Daca? And Where Does It Stand Now?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 June 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/article/whit-is-daca.html
Pasquarello, Jessica. “How the States’ Higher Education System Hurts Both Undocumented Students and Itself .” How the State’s Higher Education System Hurts Both Undocumented Students and Itself, 8 Dec. 2020,
Millsaps, John. “University System of Georgia.” Regents Adopt New Policies on Undocumented Students | Communications | University System of Georgia, 13 Oct. 2010, https://www.usg.edu/news/release/regents_adopt_new_policies_on_undocumented_stude nts.