We aim to distribute our findings through a variety of outlets to maximize their impact. This includes a USEP research brief series, longer research reports, and academic journal articles. We also use our research to inform policy and practice through op-eds and institutional publications.

USEP Policy Briefs


The Importance of Undocumented Student Services

Undocumented students experience difficulty accessing information and resources. This 2-page brief explores the importance of undocumented student services staff in facilitating access and offers policy recommendations.


Struggling: Undocumented Students’ Financial Need

UC undocumented students receive need-based financial aid if they qualify for in-state tuition, narrowing the gap between undocumented and citizen students from low-income backgrounds. Despite this, UC undocumented students have persisting financial need. This 2-page brief reviews their access to financial aid, explores persisting financial concerns, and offers policy recommendations.


Distracted: Undocumented Students’ Disrupted Academics

Undocumented students academic engagement is disrupted by a variety of immigration-related concerns. These distractions have cumulative consequences for academic engagement and performance. This 2-page brief explores sources of distraction and offers policy recommendations.

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Limited: Undocumented Students’ Postgraduate Preparation

Undocumented students have limited opportunities for professional development and face uncertainty about their future ability to be legally employed. This 2-page brief explores the post-graduate preparation barriers that undocumented UC students face and offers policy recommendations.

Stressed: Undocumented Students’ Mental Health

Undocumented students report higher levels of stress and poorer overall health than comparable populations. This 2-page brief explores their sources of mental health strain, its consequences for overall health, and offers policy recommendations.


Hesitant: Undocumented Students’ Use of Mental Health Services

Undocumented students are hesitant to use mental health services. This 2-page brief explores their perceptions of mental health services, how this creates psychosocial barriers to seeking help, and offers policy recommendations.

Journal Articles

Deconstructing Immigrant Illegality: A Mixed-Methods Investigation of Stress and Health Among Undocumented College Students

The mere state of being undocumented is viewed as a general stressor, without considering actual levels of stress or identifying dimensions of documentation status that contribute to overall stress levels. Drawing on surveys and interviews with undocumented students at the University of California, we uncover the everyday manifestations of four dimensions of immigrant “illegality”: academic concerns, future concerns, financial concerns, and deportation concerns, and their association with reported stress levels and self-rated health.


Mediating Illegality: Federal, State, and Institutional Policies in the Educational Experiences of Undocumented College Students

State and local government policies can make federally defined immigration status more or less consequential. Drawing on focus groups and interviews with undocumented students attending the University of California, we find that institutional policies work alongside state and local efforts to mediate the consequences of illegality for undocumented students. Although federal policies contribute to persistent barriers to academic engagement and professional development, we show that universities can intervene to improve educational experiences and opportunities.

Research Reports

How Can Universities Foster Educational Equity for Undocumented College Students

This 14-page report published with the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment identifies persisting barriers among UC undocumented students and offers policy recommendations that universities can implement to promote educational equity.

Undocumented and Distracted: How Immigration Laws Shape the Academic Experiences of Undocumented College Students

This 3-page report published with the California Immigration Research Initiative explores the everyday consequences of immigration policy in the daily academic experiences of undocumented students.