Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EDD)


Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Soyeon Ahn

Second Committee Member

Carol-Anne Phekoo

Third Committee Member

Debbiesiu Lee

Fourth Committee Member

Susan Mullane


In 2012, President Obama signed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) into effect, a policy that provided limited protections to approximately 800,000 immigrants brought to live in the United States by their parents at a tender age, but that did not address equitable access to higher education. States have since decided whether DACA recipients could attend public colleges and universities at a reduced, instate tuition cost. Such a practice was controversial as many argued that the cost was not worth the investment. In 2017, President Trump initiated a repeal of DACA, which was put on hold by court challenges, leaving undocumented immigrants without a clear vision of the future. To establish evidence that may help inform policymakers whose decisions affect access to higher education, this study used aggregated data from the U.S. Census Bureau and National Center for Education Statistics to answer two research questions: 1) Does DACA policy affect states’ rate of return on investment from pre-DACA implementation to post-DACA? and 2) Are there state-level factors that explain differences in states’ rate of return on investment over time? The research questions were examined based on a series of mixed-effects models. Findings indicated a significant increase in tax revenue generation by foreign-born non-citizens with earned bachelor’s degrees. In addition, states with in-state tuition policies had significantly higher increases over time in the college enrollment and vehicle ownership of foreign-born non-citizens than did those states without such policies. Implications for practice also were discussed.