Each year, roughly 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools. And up until fairly recently, many of these gifted young people lived in a state that didn’t allow them to take advantage of in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities. But in 2014, additional states — particularly those in the Southeast — have enacted legislation that levels the playing field for all students and makes college more affordable
In a bold move, the Washington House has moved to take tuition equity a step further — voting 75-22 to expand eligibility for state financial aid to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
Rep. Zack Hudgins (D), the bill’s House sponsor, understands the economic importance of investing in the state’s immigrant youth.
“This is about keeping our best and brightest here in Washington, and giving everyone a shot at the American Dream,” Hudgins said, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Three other states — California, Texas and New Mexico — are also taking the extra step to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for state financial aid.
But many low-income, undocumented students are still exempt from state-funded scholarships, and that’s an issue that Donald E. Graham, former Washington Post owner, hopes to address through his fund, “TheDream.US.” The fund aims to award full-tuition college scholarships to 1,000 students in the next academic year.
“I’m not wise enough to know what is the right immigration policy for the United States of America,” said Graham, who contributed an undisclosed amount to the fund, as did his brother, Bill. “I know these students deserve a chance at higher education.”
And that sentiment — the idea that all hardworking students in America deserve an opportunity to earn a quality education — is the driving force behind the state policy shifts we’re seeing around the country. And while these policy shifts are positive, many feel they are only a temporary fix to a much more massive problem — one that the federal government needs to step up and address.
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