Washington Poised to Become 5th State to Give Undocumented Students Financial Aid

February 4, 2014

The Washington State Senate on Friday  passed legislation to extend eligibility for State Need Grant assistance to college-bound young people live in the state but were brought here illegally by their parents.

The legislation is almost certain to become law, and mark the major achievement for this year’s session of the Legislature.

With Washington, five states will now allow financial aid to undocumented young people who have long lived in the state.

The passage came just a day after an about-face by the Senate’s ruling Republicans.

The Washington Dream Act had been held up more than a year in the Senate Higher Education Committee by its chairwoman, State Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor.

The legislation passed on a 35-10 vote with four senators absent.  The Republicans may have let it pass, but Democrats provided more than two thirds of the “Yes” votes.  Of the Senate’s 24 Republicans, 10 voted “No” and four were absent.

The legislation passed the the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on the first day of session.  The vote was 71-23.

It was given a new name — the “Real Hope Act” by the Republican-dominated Senate Majority Coalition.  The Senate version provides an additional $5 million from the state’s general fund for student financial aid.