Governor Inslee to Sign Dream Act Today
By Elena Hernandez -- Today Governor Inslee will sign the Washington State Dream Act into law- an important step towards increasing access to higher education for all Washingtonians.
Under the Dream Act, undocumented youth (Dreamers) that graduate from Washington state high schools will qualify for the State Need Grant – our state’s need-based grant aid program. Washington state becomes only the fourth state in the nation to implement such a law, and it is an important step in ensuring that our state has the highly skilled workforce needed to compete in today’s economy.
Our recent policy brief, The Washington State Dream Act: An Investment for all Washingtonians, finds that everyone in our state benefits when higher education is more attainable. Highlights include:
Increased Earnings. Higher education helps ensure that Washingtonians can meet their basic needs and achieve long-term economic security:
• People who receive a bachelor’s degree earn $840,000 more over their working life than people with only a high school diploma. An associate’s degree yields $300,000 more.
Positive Return to Communities. For Dreamers that receive the State Need Grant the return to the state would far outweigh the costs:
• Every $1 invested in Dreamers who graduate from a four-year university would produce a $2 increase in state and local tax dollars; graduating from community and technical college would produce a $4 increase.
• Over time, the net return on this investment for the state could be as much as $43,000 per graduate at a four-year university and $22,000 per graduate at a community and technical college.
Addressing the Opportunity Gap. Dreamers are less likely to graduate from high school than their peers, and even amongst those that do graduate, only half (49 percent) of them pursue higher education. Improved access to financial aid not only provides incentive for high school completion, it also improves college enrollment and persistence.
Read the full brief here. You can also learn more about the legislative history of the Washington State Dream Act and get an in-depth look at our analysis by watching our webinar here, co-hosted with Rich Stolz, Director of OneAmerica.