Research shows how DACA motivates youth to succeed in their education and beyond

As the DACA debate continues to turn, we know that the security that comes with a legal status inspires DREAMers to contribute all they can to the only country they call home. That security affects every aspect of their lives, and encourages them to pursue opportunities they otherwise may think are out of their reach.

We’ve heard from many of our Affiliate schools that undocumented students are more likely to drop out if they don’t see a viable future for themselves by pursuing education or a career. With DACA, students have the relief to finish their education. and have the work permit to pursue a career.

A paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research gives proof to what the Affiliates have seen: DACA has had a huge impact on undocumented youths’ education.


The National Skills Coalition breaks down the key findings, which show that DACA is a powerful motivator to keep kids in school, and to keep striving for success.:

  • DACA recipients are more likely to finish high school. Particularly with young men and recipients ages 19–23, there are significant increases in graduation rates. Over DACA’s lifespan, an estimated 49,000 young people graduated thanks to the program.
  • DACA recipients are more likely to enroll in postsecondary education. Young women were especially more likely to enroll in postsecondary education after DACA was introduced, including college and trade school, or skill-based learning.
  • Access to in-state tuition pays off. DACA relief that’s specific to each state also led to higher enrollment. The states that allow DREAMers to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges showed higher increase in enrollment with DACA recipients than the states that didn’t offer the same benefit.
  • DACA encourages young people to work. DACA status includes a permit to work in the United States, so in addition to being enrolled in school, youth who benefit from DACA pursue jobs and careers at higher rates.

It’s no surprise that ambitious young people will jump at the opportunity to expand their possibilities in this country. We can’t forget what’s at stake for these young people who have done everything they can to prove how much they want to contribute to this country.

MORE ON THIS TOPIC What impact does ending DACA have on K-12 students?

UnidosUS Blog: What the legal cases to defend DACA mean for DREAMers

Progress Report: The stress of being a student on DACA

You might also be interested in: