Published Mar. 12, 2014
By Ty Beaver. Tri-City Herald
Education officials are trying to get the word out that a
new state law has the potential to help hundreds of undocumented
Mid-Columbia residents pay for college.
An informational session
is planned Friday at Columbia Basin College in Pasco on Washington's
REAL Hope Act, which opened state financial aid to some undocumented
immigrants, a release said.
The session is aimed at informing students and parents about who qualifies for financial help and how to apply for it.
it's not clear how the legislation will affect CBC or Washington State
University Tri-Cities, officials at each school said they support the
new law and its ability to increase access to education.
several situations where students saved up and started but after a
quarter or two they had to step out to work and get money," said Martn
Valadez, CEO of the Columbia Basin College Foundation.
Inslee signed the legislation, previously called the Washington DREAM
Act, in late February. It's similar to proposed federal legislation that
would give citizenship to undocumented immigrants who came to the
United States as children, lived here for a minimum number of years,
have graduated from a U.S. high school and stayed out of trouble.
state legislation doesn't provide citizenship but would make
applicable students eligible for need-based state grants for higher
education by using many of the qualifying parameters of the federal
proposal. That could mean a lot to the high number of immigrant families
in the Tri-Cities, officials said.
"The REAL Hope legislation
increases access to higher education and helps makes students feel more
welcome on college campuses," Chris Meiers, vice chancellor for
enrollment management and student services at Washington State
University Tri-Cities, said in a statement to the Herald.
of the new legislation, the state has set aside an additional $5 million
for State Need Grants. Students can begin applying for the grants on
April 1 and begin using them to pay for school expenses this fall.
sessions on the new law are happening around the state sponsored by the
Washington Student Achievement Council and the Latino/a Educational
Achievement Project, or LEAP. Educational Service District 123, based in
Pasco, is helping with the CBC event.
Along with meeting certain
guidelines, students will still have to go through an application
process, including filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or
FAFSA, despite not being eligible for federal aid, Valadez said.
unclear how the legislation could affect enrollment and retention rates
but it would likely be positive, officials said, as it would be easier
for more students to afford taking college classes and stay in school.
"Books can cost as much as $1,000," Valadez said.
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