DREAM Act

Martha Kang / KPLU

Fall classes began at many of Washington's public universities Wednesday, beginning the first term undocumented immigrant students can receive state-backed financial aid under a new state law.

But while more than 2,000 students applied to receive state need grants under provisions of the newly-enacted Washington "Dream Act," state higher education officials say it's possible as many as 700 of these undocumented students won't receive an aid award at all — even if they're eligible.

It's not just undocumented students who will miss out. Though state expenditures on the program have ballooned as tuition costs get higher, there isn't enough funding for the state need grant program to offer aid to every eligible Washington student.

Martha Kang / KPLU

Move-in day at the University of Washington is a jumble of boxes and emotions for incoming freshman Carlos Escutia.

"I'm so happy I get to move in first. I get to pick the bed," he says, grinning and carrying a bedspread into his new dorm room. 

For the past 15 years, Escutia's family has worked hard in hopes of celebrating days like this. His parents left Mexico when Escutia was 3, dreaming of better lives and better education for their children. Going to a four-year college has always been Escutia's goal.

A year ago, it wasn't even clear the Lynnwood High School grad would make it to this day. As an undocumented immigrant, Escutia didn't qualify for government loans to cover his college costs. He'd have to apply for competitive private scholarships and hope for the best.

Then the state legislature passed the "Dream Act," granting many undocumented high school graduates access to state-funded college grants. Escutia was among the first to apply, and he is now part of the state's first wave of so-called "dreamers" to start classes.

AP Photo

This is the week undocumented students in Washington will become eligible for state college tuition aid. The “Real Hope Act” is just one of dozens of new state laws that take effect Thursday, 90 days after the Washington legislature adjourned.

Gov. Inslee Signs Immigrant Financial Aid Bill

Feb 26, 2014
Taylor Winkel

Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law a measure that expands state college financial aid to students in the country without legal status.

In a highly divided Legislature, passage of the bill represents a big win for immigrant advocates. It's also the first bill to become law this session.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A late vote in the Washington Legislature has the children of immigrants cheering, literally. On Tuesday night, the state House overwhelmingly approved a measure to allow high school graduates who came to this country illegally with their parents to apply for state financial aid.

Austin Jenkins

The state of Washington could soon become the fourth in the nation after California, Texas and New Mexico to allow the children of illegal immigrants to qualify for state-funded college financial aid.

The idea has now passed both the Washington House and Senate. But allowing undocumented students to compete for these limited dollars is still a thorny issue for some, especially since the program is already seriously underfunded.

State Senate Passes Its Own Version Of Dream Act

Jan 31, 2014
<< Jonny Boy >> / Flickr

The state’s undocumented high school graduates may be one step closer to accessing financial aid.

On Friday the Senate passed a measure to make State Need Grants available to students who came to this country illegally with their parents.

Taylor Winkel

More than 500 members of Washington’s Muslim-American community marched at the state Capitol Monday to urge senators to pass the Dream Act.

The rally in support of the bill, which would make undocumented students eligible for financial aid, also marked the fifth annual Muslim Lobby Day.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is calling for a hike in the minimum wage as well as cost-of-living increases for teachers. Those were two of the Democrat’s key policy proposals in his State of the State speech Tuesday.

But Republicans lawmakers quickly shot down the ideas.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

It wasn’t all pomp and circumstance. The opening day of the Washington Legislature included something rare for the first day of session: a floor vote.

The Washington House voted Monday to give college grant money to low-income high school graduates who are in the country illegally.