State-Based Policy Supports for Refugee, Asylee, and TPS-Background Students in US Higher Education


  • Lisa Unangst Gladys W. & David Patton College of Education, Ohio University
  • Ishara Casellas Connors Texas A&M University, Washington, D.C.
  • Nicole Barone Graduate School of Education, Harvard University



critical policy analysis, post-secondary education, migration, displacement, tuition, college access


Higher education for displaced students is rarely the focus of academic literature in the context of the United States, despite 79.5 million people displaced worldwide as of December 2019 and 3 million refugees resettled in the United States since the 1970s (UNHCR, 2020). An estimated 95,000 Afghans will be resettled in the US by September 2022, and the executive branch has requested $6.4 billion in funds from Congress to support this resettlement process (Young, 2021). This represents the most concentrated resettlement in the US since the end of the Vietnam War. It is therefore clear that policy supports for displaced students represent a pressing educational equity issue. This paper applies critical policy analysis to state-level policies supporting displaced students and argues that both data gaps and policy silence characterize the current state of play.

Author Biographies

Lisa Unangst, Gladys W. & David Patton College of Education, Ohio University

Lisa Unangst is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Gladys W. & David H. Patton College of Education, Ohio University. She can be reached at

Ishara Casellas Connors, Texas A&M University, Washington, D.C.

Ishara Casellas Connors is an Assistant Professor of Public Service and Administration at the Bush School for Government and Public Administration, Texas A&M University. She can be reached at

Nicole Barone, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University

Nicole Barone is the Manager of Part-Time Master's Studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She can be reached at


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How to Cite

Unangst, L., Casellas Connors, I., & Barone, N. (2022). State-Based Policy Supports for Refugee, Asylee, and TPS-Background Students in US Higher Education. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 38(1), 95–110.