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Washington Policy

Updated As Of: April 17, 2017

Undocumented students are eligible to receive in-state tuition as of 2003 via HB 1079.  On February 26, 2014, Governor Jay Inslee signed the Washington State DREAM Act into law, making undocumented students eligible for state financial aid.
  • HB 1079 | In-state Tuition Eligibility Requirements

    • Earned a diploma or equivalent (GED) from a Washington high school

    • Resided in Washington for at least three consecutive years as of the date the person received a diploma or GED

    • Continually lived in Washington since receiving a diploma or GED

    • Filed an affidavit verifying that he or she qualifies to pay resident tuition and will seek legal permanent residency when legally permitted to do so.

For more information on the Washington State DREAM Act please click here.

  • Governor Gary Locke signed HB 1079 into law on May 7, 2003, extending in-state tuition eligibility to undocumented students.
  • SB 5828, introduced in 2011, would have revoked undocumented students' in-state tuition eligibility but failed to pass.
  • HB 1817, introduced in 2014, would have extended in-state tuition eligibility to DACA recipients.
  • SB 6523, also known as the Washington State DREAM Act, was introduced in January 2014 and passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support, making undocumented students eligible for state financial aid.
  • Washington is one of the few states to provide undocumented immigrants with identical licenses to lawfully present residents.  SB 5407, introduced in 2011, would have created a two-tier driver’s license program labeling undocumented immigrants’ licenses “invalid for identification purposes” but failed to pass largely due to the restrictive impact on undocumented workers and high cost of implementation. 
  • Since 2007, ACLU has lobbied for a new note within the Rule of Professional Conduct which would not permit attorneys to use a person’s immigration status to intimidate, coerce or obstruct that person for reasons unrelated to a civil case.  As of September 1, 2013, the Washington State Supreme Court approved the new note.
  • Introduced in 2012, SB 6436 would have made it unlawful to transport or harbor illegal immigrants, limited driver's licenses to citizens or lawful permanent residents, required verification of immigration status for a felony or DUI arrest, and mandated a work verification system for public employers; the bill failed to pass.
  • King County (which includes Seattle) passed Ordinance 2013-0285 in December 2013.  The ordinance limits the local police department’s involvement with federal immigration enforcement. 
  • SB 5852, introduced in February 2017, would prevent the organized militia of Washington from enforcing federal immigration laws if passed.

Federal law has been unsuccessful at addressing comprehensive access to postsecondary education for undocumented students. Despite efforts to pass the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, Congress has not addressed the current ambiguous language in IIRIRA regarding undocumented students' eligibility for educational benefits (i.e. in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid programs). Therefore, much of the policy activity regarding postsecondary access for undocumented students has shifted to state and system levels. As a result, state policymakers and higher education institutions take varied approaches to either broadening or restricting access to postsecondary education and educational benefits. Others states have yet to take formal action on this issue, leaving the decision to individual campus leaders.

Under the provisions of this ambiguous policy context, undocumented youth encounter contentious environments with policies that range from inclusive, restrictive, or unstipulated stances.

Inclusive: States with policies that explicitly grant in-state tuition and/or eligibility for public financial aid for undocumented students.

Restrictive: States with policies that explicitly deny eligibility for admission and/or in-state tuition for undocumented students.

Unstipulated: States that do not have stated policies that explicitly address undocumented student access to postsecondary education.

State and system policies are volatile and continuously changing. For the latest, please visit the uLEAD NewsdeskFor information specific to individual state context, click in the subheadings below.

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