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Some states have enacted inclusive policies that reduce constraints and uncertainty for undocumented students, potentially changing their academic decisions and postsecondary goals. We explore shifts in continuing undocumented community college students’ course-taking before and after the California DREAM Act, which provided access to state financial aid. We use difference-in-differences comparisons with permanent residents, refugees, and U.S. citizens who were unaffected by these policies to examine policy impacts. After its implementation, continuing students increased their enrollment intensity, primarily in degree-applicable and transferable courses, and decreased coursework in career/technical education. This suggests state financial aid may have broadened postsecondary possibilities and made transfer to a 4-year institution a more viable option for undocumented students. At the same time, access to aid did not increase undocumented students’ credit loads to the level of their peers, underscoring the reality that other constraints continue to shape undocumented students’ participation in higher education.
Undocumented students; Community college; Financial aid; Education policy; Difference-in-differences
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Hinojosa, J. K.
Broadened Possibilities: Undocumented Community College Student Course Enrollment After the California DREAM Act.
AERA Open, 8(1),