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ERIC Number: ED537525
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Feb
Pages: 70
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 81
Reconciling Federal, State, and Institutional Policies Determining Educational Access for Undocumented Students: Implications for Professional Practice
Burkhardt, John C.; Ortega, Noe; Vidal Rodriguez, Angela; Frye, Joanna R.; Nellum, Christopher J.; Reyes, Kimberly A.; Hussain, Omar; Badke, Lara Kovacheff; Hernandez, Joanna
National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good (NJ1)
Given the intense efforts to change federal legislation, it is surprising that relatively little research has examined how postsecondary institutions respond to organizational pressures and local contexts. These "boundary activities" determine actual practice (Birnbaum, 1991) and may be the only way to remedy the exclusion of undocumented students. This study addresses the way in which laws influence but do not ultimately determine institutional practice. The authors examine how government policies influence institutional decision-making and how higher education professionals negotiate the tension between state and federal laws and the needs of the undocumented students. The authors examine how laws shape institutional behavior and how postsecondary institutions reconcile these regulations with widely held values and beliefs, construct the meaning of compliance, and ultimately mediate the impact these policies have on society. This report presents the findings of a study conducted in early 2011 by the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good in partnership with the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO). Part I analyzes the institutional, legal, and sociopolitical contexts underlying the current policy environment affecting the issues of immigration and postsecondary opportunities for undocumented students. The authors examine various state policies as well as some social and economic concerns that may influence policy decisions and shape public opinion. This section also highlights how ambiguities in laws regulating postsecondary educational benefits for undocumented students have led to inconsistent policies and practices. Part II describes the theoretical, analytical, and methodological constructs that frame the authors' study. They present findings from a national survey of members of NASFAA and AACRAO that examines how postsecondary institutions respond to laws and how they construct the meaning of compliance. Finally, the authors present their results and discuss their impact. Part III presents two case studies they conducted to further examine how their findings play out in the daily decisions about policies that promote access for immigrant and undocumented students. Two appendixes are provided: (1) Partnering Organizations and Their Roles; and (2) Table F: Mean and Percentage Differences for NASFAA Respondents. (Contains 6 tables and 13 footnotes.) [Funding for this document was provided by the TG Public Benefit Grant Program.]
National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good. 2239 School of Education Building, 610 East University Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. Tel: 734-615-8882; Fax: 734-615-9777; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: University of Michigan, National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good