“In places where there is no infrastructure, I think the role of the nonprofit-NGO sector is going to be much more important than it has been up until now,” said William Pérez, an associate professor in Claremont Graduate University’s School of Educational Studies who specializes in immigrant-student issues. “A lot of these nonprofit programs, by virtue of the fact that they’re not publicly funded, they have a lot of flexibility. That’s the case for private colleges that have significant endowments,” too.
Still, Roberto G. Gonzales, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education who specializes in issues related to Latino and immigrant students, said that “with DACA, more colleges and universities have felt more comfortable providing aid and resources. If they no longer have DACA, what will be the level of commitment? remains a really big question.”
What’s more, some studies suggest that access to these funding sources doesn’t have as significant an impact on college enrollment as does that of public subsidies and aid. Research on Latino foreign-born non-citizens, many of whom are undocumented, has found that prospective students living in states where they’re eligible for in-state tuition are more likely to enroll in college than those in states without these policies. (Private loans for their part are often difficult for undocumented students to obtain, typically charging higher interest rates and coming with more complications than federally subsidized loans.)
As for how the prospective decline in DACA students’ enrollment will affect universities’ revenue, any answers are purely speculative, and contingencies will vary state by state.
Ira Mehlman, the media director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for increased immigration restrictions, predicts that the financial shift for most universities will be negligible, and that if it does shift it will likely be in the universities’ favor. “For pretty much all these universities, there will be other takers available for those seats, other people who need whatever funding might be going towards covering the DACA recipients’ tuitions,” he said. And the students who would theoretically take the places of DACA recipients may be in a better position to pay higher tuition, he argued.
Others, however, emphasize that financial gain is unlikely, especially at public universities where schools would likely fill most seats with students receiving in-state tuition. Plus, as Lesley J. Turner, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Maryland who has worked on issues of higher-education funding and undocumented students, pointed out, DACA recipients account for such a small percentage of the population at most public universities that “they’re not crowding out a substantial number of students who would be coming from in-state or from out-of-state.” In the same vein, most scholars acknowledge that individual colleges likely wouldn’t see a significant loss in revenue if their DACA-student enrollment does take a hit.