The Washington State House of Representatives, Senate, and governor have passed the Dream Act that will give thousands of children of undocumented parents the chance to apply for in-state tuition and grants.
Gov. Jay Inslee gave the final approval Feb. 26. Shortly after the bill passed the House of Representatives, Inslee tweeted, “Proud to give fair access and financial support for aspiring Washington students.”
The Dream Act allows undocumented students an opportunity to have the chance at a higher education. Currently in Washington state, children of undocumented parents have to pay international student fees even if they have lived in this state for their whole lives.
The Washington State Senate first passed the bill early February, and then the House of Representatives passed the bill on Feb. 18. This has been a bill that was blocked federally, but now Washington joins three other states giving undocumented students real hope: California, Texas, and New Mexico.
The Washington State Senate is calling this bill the “Real Hope Act” because they want to make opportunities for education for everyone and not just a dream, but rather “real hope,” said Sen. Barbara Bailey to the Olympian newspaper.
Now the Achievement Council will have more work to do before the schools will able to implement anything, said Kellie Braseth, SPSCC dean of college relations. The council will have to come up with applications and a system to figure out who and how students can start becoming part of the system, she added.
For SPSCC, the difference is Washington state residents paying $534 for five credits, while international students are paying $1,394 for fees for the same five credits. Students that meet the requirements for the Dream Act will essentially be added to the pool of students that already apply for in-state tuition and grants.
$5 million will be added from the state’s general fund to help support the new group of students now also applying for state funds. This is not as much as the Student Achievement Council suggested which they hoped would be closer to $16 million.
Braseth said the college is ready to welcome in more students and happy to be able to support them in furthering their education. This act will allow students the chance to reach their full potential, and that will only better the community, she said.
“I applaud the State Legislature and Governor Inslee for passing the Dream Act,” said Peter Rex, SPSCC political science professor. “They are sending an important message that higher education is an opportunity for everybody.”
SPSCC student, Adam Golden, said he believed this act was fair because the U.S. is supposed to be the place where you can come for hope and have the opportunity to pursue the American Dream.
To apply for the Dream Act, according to the bill’s fiscal note, undocumented students must have graduated from a Washington state high school, lived in the state for at least three years, and be able to prove they intend to become a permanent state resident.