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Investing in Dreamers is the Right Move

Posted by taral at Jan 31, 2014 05:50 PM |
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By Elena Hernandez -- The passage of SB 6523 has made the dream of higher education a much closer reality for a generation of youth across our state.  Policymakers are taking steps in the right direction by improving access to higher education for all Washingtonians.  In so doing, they will be ensuring that our state has the well-educated, highly skilled workforce it needs to be competitive in today’s economy.

SB 6523 is nearly identical to the bill that the House passed (HB 1817) on the first day of the legislative session.  Both bills would ensure that young undocumented youth (Dreamers) who work hard, earn good grades, and graduate from a Washington state high school have the same opportunities to apply for state need grant aid as their peers.

Dreamers do not qualify for federal or state financial aid, therefore finances are the main barrier to pursuing higher education.   As a result, only 49 percent of Dreamers that graduate from high school go on to college, a much lower rate than their peers.   Both SB 6523 and HB 1817 increase access to financial aid, making higher education more affordable.  This increases the likelihood that Dreamers will attend college, and also improve their persistence once enrolled (see graph below).



Stay tuned next week for our latest policy brief to learn more about how the Washington State Dream Act will benefit our state and provide a positive return on investment.

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