We collect and analyze various kinds of data to track who our USP serves, how we’ve grown, and the impact of our programs and services.

We’re growing – and growing

In the spring of 2012 the Undocumented Student Program at UC Berkeley became the first program of its kind in the US. In its first semester, the program served about 112 students. Since then, the number of undocumented students attending UC Berkeley has grown, as have the number of students who self-identify as undocumented and participate in the USP.

In the 2019-2020 academic year, the USP served 378 students, both undergraduate and graduate, accounting for approximately 89% of the total 427 self-identified undocumented students at UC Berkeley. Of these, 303 came in as first-years and 124 were transfer students.

Our USP is a safe harbor

Many undocumented students say they decided to attend UC Berkeley specifically because of the USP, because they knew there would be a place on campus where they would belong. Some participants indicate they feel comfort being surrounded by others who understand their experience and who speak their language.

Who we serve

  • 85% of USP participants are the first in their families to pursue a college degree. In contrast, only 25% of UC Berkeley’s general population are first-generation college students.
  • 71% of USP participants are of Latino descent, 27% are of Asian descent, 1% of White descent and less than 1% of Black descent.
  • 78% of USP participants come from households with incomes of less than $50,000. In contrast, 20% of UC Berkeley’s general population come from households with incomes of less than $50,000.

It’s a multilingual community

An overwhelming majority of USP participants speak a language other than English, compared to only one-third of the overall Cal population.

Languages Spoken at Home

USP Participants All Cal Students
Only speak English in the home 1% 39%
Speak English and another language in the home 15% 29%
Do not speak English in the home 84% 31%

Our gender breakdown is similar to the university as a whole

Although the USP has more women than men, that gender breakdown is quite similar to the general campus. In 2015-2016, 206 of USP participants were women and 163 were male.

USP Gender Breakdown

2019-2020 USP Participants All Cal Students
Women 260 (60%) 16,788 (53%)
Men 166 (40%) 14,308 (47%)

Our participants have high financial need and little access to financial aid

  • With an average annual family income of $24,000, USP students tend to have one of the highest levels of financial need of all students, as well as minimal access to financial aid.
  • The majority of USP participants are from either low or middle-income families (67% and 20% respectively), whereas the majority of the general student population is from upper-middle income and wealthy families (51%).

Our students can focus on their studies, not their worries

Undocumented students have access to trained academic counselors who help them choose courses and address some of the financial pressures they face at a competitive university.

  • From the program’s inception in 2012 through the spring 2020 semester, USP academic counselors served about 1,000 undocumented students.
  • On average, each of the students they serve sees the academic counselor for 9 appointments during the year.
  • In addition, undocumented students at UC Berkeley have access to mental health counselors who can help them address the unique challenges that can arise with being undocumented.
    In spring 2020, our USP psychologists had 70 ongoing clients who have weekly or bi-monthly appointments, and 40 students who were seen with less frequency, for a total of 600 scheduled mental health appointments. As well, over the same time frame, the psychologists offered 34 group sessions.
  • Through the USP, students can also access an immigration legal support to whom they can safely disclose their status and who will help them navigate their legal challenges.
  • This type of wrap-around support has helped undocumented students focus better on their studies rather than other worries: in the spring of 2015, the average cumulative GPA for USP participants (369 undergraduates) was 3.11 (compared to 3.29 for all undergraduates.

Our undocumented student program gets results

The USP programs benefit students, removing barriers and improving their quality of life.

USP Results

Issue Students Face USP Program Result
Nearly 73% of undocumented students skip meals due to financial constraints and not being eligible for services such as CalFresh. Some miss as many as 14 meals per week. Food Pantry and Basic Needs Food Assistance Awards Undocumented students are permitted to access the pantry up to once a week. Students also receive $192 per month for groceries and food, equivalent to what they would get through CalFresh.
Because of the average $650 per semester cost of course-required textbooks and the gap between a student’s financial aid and cost of attendance, some students are forced to choose between books, groceries for the month or rent. Emergency Grants Emergency Grants are meant to  provide limited financial support to students for reasons related to emergencies and basic needs such as housing, medical bills, etc. In spring 2020, the average emergency grant award was $1,300.
In 2012, only two undocumented students participated in the Summer Bridge preparatory program. Most undocumented students were reluctant to attend the program due to their legal status and lack of finances. The Summer Bridge With the USP’s additional financial support and encouragement, up to 35 undocumented students have attended Summer Bridge since 2013, and participation continues to increase.
Before the USP, undocumented students didn’t know who supported them or to whom they could feel safe disclosing their status. In addition, the campus at large lacked a deeper of understanding of the undocumented student community. Undocu- Ally The founding allies of the USP created a special training course for campus allies called UndocuAlly Training. The USP coordinates the program to help participants better understand the undocumented student community. The training has bolstered campus solidarity.
Undocumented students at UC Berkeley didn’t have a way to access the most current USP changes and updates; UC policies, or news. In addition, they wanted a way to connect the undocumented community on campus. USP website and social media presence  In 2013, the USP developed a permanent comprehensive online presence that serves as the central information hub for current and prospective undocumented students and their families. Marketing and Communications later developed handles through social media that also connected students to the program and the program to our students.

From spring 2017 on, undocumented students who graduated UC Berkeley all had the USP operating every year of their study. The first USP cohort has provided an important opportunity to analyze the USPs impact over time.

We are also encouraged by the growth of another cohort: the number of institutions developing undocumented student programs for their campuses. Since 2013, the USP has trained and consulted over 260 colleges and universities. We look forward to continued growth and increased networking.