Undocumented Immigrants’ Access to Higher Education in Indiana

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis


International Studies


The growing cost of college education coupled with federal and state anti-immigrant legislation pose considerable challenges for undocumented Hispanic youth seeking to break the cycles of poverty and educate themselves. Because the current wave of immigration from Latin America has had economic and social effects, it has been a popular debate in politics. In the past years immigration has been of greater concern in legislation and policy. Both the federal and state governments have attempted to enact legislation concerning illegal immigration and the rights of the undocumented. Ignoring the pros and cons of immigration, its recent attention begs the question: what rights do undocumented immigrants retain and what rights are being withheld from them in their pursuit of higher education? This paper attempts to dig deeper into this issue and analyze the different barriers facing undocumented students in Indiana.

To examine this issue, this thesis begins with an assessment of previous research regarding minority and immigrant education in the United States and the challenges they face to access higher education, including marginalization and language. Then the study assesses immigration trends and federal and state legislation related to undocumented immigrants’ access to higher education. Finally, based on in-depth individual interviews with Hispanic youth in Indiana, the thesis examines experiences with the current system and the challenges undocumented students must overcome in order to access higher education.


Please contact the author at hkweigle [at] gmail [dot] com to request a copy of this thesis.

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