Supporting DACA recipients

Steps that UW-Madison is taking to support DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) recipients, including guidance on what members of our community should know to help better understand the potential impact of pending legislative changes.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison welcomes and supports students without regard to their immigration status.

You belong here

Dreamers are welcome at UW-MadionRegardless of immigration status, UW-Madison wants all students to know that, “You belong here” and are an integral part of the UW campus community.

As a student population in the U.S., there are unique challenges for dreamers who may be DACA-mented, undocumented.

Chancellor Blank has publicized a statement on executive order on immigration and has signed a statement in support of DACA and Undocumented Immigrant Students and issued a statement supporting non-immigrant visas.

What is DACA?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, commonly known as “DACA”, is a program that allows some unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to request deferred removal action. Individuals granted DACA status are allowed to stay in the U.S. for generally a two-year period, subject to renewal, and to also obtain work authorization.

Current DACA recipients will maintain the benefits through the expiration date of their status, at which time they will no longer be eligible for deferred action.

Those protected under DACA are known as “Dreamers.” DACA was a compromise devised by the Obama administration after Congress failed to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (Dream) Act, which would have offered the chance of permanent legal residency.

Know your rights

Classrooms, dorms, places of worship

ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has designated classrooms and places of worship as “sensitive locations,” meaning that ICE will make arrests at a sensitive location only in exigent circumstances or emergency situations requiring swift action to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property, or to forestall the imminent escape of a suspect, or destruction of evidence.

The right to remain silent

Individuals confronted by ICE agents may invoke the right to remain silent and to refuse to answer questions or consent to any kind of search.

Five things to know

Understanding the processes surrounding admission, cost, academics, and scholarships will help inform decision making.

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1. Admissions

DACA status is not asked about on the application for admission. There is not a separate admission process for DACA students. The admission process utilizes a holistic review for all applicants.

There is no federal law that prohibits the admission of undocumented immigrants to U.S. colleges, public or private. All students are welcome to apply to Edgewood College, Madison College, and UW-Madison regardless of their citizenship or residency status. Residency status is not a factor that is considered in admission, but tuition rates are different for students who are from in-state and students who are identified as out-of-state.

2. Estimated cost of attendance

3. Academics

Each institution offer a variety of degree options that will lead to your educational, professional, and career goals. Learn about different program options and degree requirements:

4. Scholarships

5. Resources

Dreamers of UW-Madison

The purpose of this organization is to advocate for undocumented/DACA-mented students pursuing higher education.

Community Navigators of Madison 

Community Navigators are community members who receive specialized training to provide quality immigration services for their communities in an empowering and effective way.

Centro Hispano: Escalera

The Escalera Program uses a national model to provide services to Latinos in grades 9-12 to promote economic mobility through increasing academic achievement, facilitating career planning and provided information about advanced careers. Currently at West and East High Schools

Centro Hispano: [Re]Generación

A leadership program created in 2015 by youth facilitators for Latinx high school students in the Madison area. Through different workshops and activities we engage youth in culture, identity, and the arts to strengthen their voice in our community.

Centro Hispano Immigration Services

Consultations for DACA, Naturalization, Permanent Residency and family cases.

Association of LatinX Students (AL@S) at Edgewood College

ALaS at Edgewood strives to support and motive students with multicultural origins, with the ultimate goal of enriching our educational experience, as well as that of others.

Financial supports for DACA recipients

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Resident tuition status

Under current state law, the University does not have the authority to grant resident tuition status to undocumented students or those with DACA status. As a result, such students are not considered state residents and are therefore charged out-of-state tuition. Because of their status, they are also not currently able to access financial aid from federal sources or state aid from the Higher Educational Aids Board.

Financial aid

Generally, DACA students are not eligible for federal, state, or institutional need-based financial aid because they require U.S. citizenship or other eligible non-citizen status.

UW-Madison has been working hard to grow the pool of private financial aid for all students who may need assistance with the cost of attendance and these funds may be available to support students in this status.  Within the past year, the Chancellor’s Office dedicated discretionary private funds to support a new development position dedicated to grow need-based scholarship opportunities at the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association.

Prioritization of scholarship funds

Within the pool of private funds available to support need-based scholarships, UW-Madison has prioritized allocating these resources to fulfill the commitment of financial aid made to students participating in partnership programs, such as the PEOPLE program and the Madison College Scholars of Promise. A limited amount of private resources exists above and beyond those dedicated to these efforts.  Students interested in applying for these resources, may request an individualized assessment through the Office of Student Financial Aid by contacting Martina Diaz at (608) 262-4448 or Joselyn Diaz-Valdes at (608) 262-6885.

Private donations

UW-Madison is establishing a process through the Wisconsin Foundation & Alumni Association to accept private donations dedicated to supporting students with financial need who are otherwise unable to access federal financial aid. For information on how to make a contribution for this purpose, please contact Shannon Ghere or (608) 509-2167.

Campus jobs

Current DACA recipients retain authorization to work in the U.S. until their DACA status expires. If a DACA recipient provides updated paperwork based on a renewal of DACA status, the university should complete an I-9 based on that paperwork. Once a DACA employee’s I-9 expires, the university must re-verify that individual’s work authorization or following the university’s procedures regarding lack of work authorization.


DACA recipients who currently have authorization to travel outside the U.S. (known as Advance Parole) will maintain that benefit until it expires or is revoked. Even if a DACA recipient has Advance Parole status, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has indicated it will continue to exercise its discretion in admitting any individual at the border.

When DACA status expires

Students do not need to drop out if DACA status expires.  Enrollment at UW-Madison is not based on DACA status.

UW-Madison Protects DACA privacy

UW-Madison will not provide information on the immigration status of its students, faculty, or staff unless required to do so under the force of law. UW-Madison also does not hold any official records related to an individual’s DACA status, nor does the UW have access to that information.

The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) generally prohibits the university from sharing information from your education records without your written consent. However, there are exceptions.

All employees (including professors) are obligated to follow the same FERPA restrictions noted above. Whether information should be released will always depend on who is asking, what information is being requested, and whether you have a FERPA hold on your student records.

The Office of the Registrar helps all students with their questions about student records and privacy:

When will your DACA Information be shared?

Certain information about you, referred to as “Directory Information” can be shared with others without your consent. Directory information is public information unless you have a FERPA hold on your student record and for third-party requests (like a company wanting to market to students). Understand more about directory information.

Even with a FERPA hold, the university may share your information with others in certain situations. For example, UW-Madison employees with an academic need to know (like your professor) will still be able to access certain pieces of your student record. We may also be legally required to provide information from your education record in response to a subpoena or other governmental order or request.


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UW-Madison Police Department (UWPD) actions

UWPD will not participate in immigration enforcement actions conducted by ICE. Our resources are limited and such enforcement is not part of UWPD’s mission.

UWPD officers shall not detain or arrest an individual solely based on a suspected violation of immigration law and should not routinely inquire to an individual’s immigration status. An individual’s immigration status is immaterial to our mission and will only be relevant if they individual is involved in a serious crime An individual’s immigration status has no bearing on their ability to file a police report with UWPD.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions

ICE officers must use appropriate legal process if they are on campus and wish to contact individual students about enforcement-related issues For example, they generally cannot enter an on-campus private residence without proper warrant.

Free legal services

Immigrant Justice Clinic (IJC) at UW-Madison’s Law School

Providing legal services to Wisconsin’s under-served immigrant community and in particular, indigent non-citizens. This may include filing applications for humanitarian relief available to non-citizen victims of crime, persecution, and human trafficking, or defending non-citizens facing removal in Immigration Court.

Please note that IJC does not assist with student or employment visas. For inquiries and questions about IJC’s legal services, please call: 608-890-3753.

Community Immigration Law Center

Conducting free legal intakes at Christ Presbyterian Church, 944 East Gorham Street, every other Friday. Any person can show up, receive an intake, and have the opportunity to speak with an immigration attorney.