I'm undocumented.
Can I go to college?

The answer is YES!

Undocumented students in Washington state have the right to attend colleges and universities, and many qualify for state-funded financial aid because of the Washington Dream Act, also called the REAL Hope Act.

Do I qualify?

You qualify if you can say yes to the following three questions:

  1. I have or will have graduated from a high school or will have obtained my GED in Washington state.
    I have lived or will have lived in Washington state for three years before graduating from high school.
    I am currently attending or plan to attend a public college or university in Washington state.

If you are an undocumented student and you already know you qualify for state-funded financial aid, click here to file your online application.

Note: You do not have to be registered for college to apply for financial aid. But, when you fill out the online application for financial aid (through the link to Ready Set Grad), it will ask you to state the colleges or universities to which you intend to apply for admission.

Access to colleges and universities for undocumented students
Due to laws passed in Washington state, undocumented students who meet certain requirements may be eligible to:
  • Pay in-state (resident) tuition at Washington colleges and universities – see HB 1079
  • Apply for and receive financial aid to help pay for college tuition – see REAL Hope
See also on this web site:
  • High School to College — understand what is needed to go from high school to college.
  • DACA — learn about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,an executive action which allows many undocumented students to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

This site is an initiative of the Latino/a Educational Achievement Project, a program of Sea Mar Community Health Centers.

High School to College

Getting a diploma or GED

All students should work toward earning a high school diploma. A diploma is required to be admitted to most colleges and universities. If you leave high school before graduating, you can earn the equivalent of a high school diploma, called GED. This can improve your chances of being admitted to college. GEDs are earned at community colleges.

Affording college

Since 2003, undocumented students have been permitted to pay the same tuition for college all other resident students pay. Beginning in 2014, undocumented students were eligible to apply for state financial aid intended to help students from low-income families afford higher education.

Type of State Financial Aid Available:

As of October 2015, Washington students who qualify for in-state tuition and who have a DACA work permit may also claim their College Bound Scholarship if they signed the College Bound pledge in middle school and meet the income requirements. The College Bound Scholarship program is an early commitment of state financial aid to eligible students who sign up in middle school and fulfill the scholarship pledge. Visit the College Bound site for more information.

Undocumented middle school students who do not yet qualify for DACA should still sign the College Bound pledge, as they may qualify for DACA once they turn 15.

Applying to college

If you know the college or university you want to apply to, go to their web site to apply online. If you do not know what college or university you want to apply to, talk to a high school or college counselor or someone else you know who has attended college.

Nelson Mandela

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

HB 1079 - In-state tuition for undocumented students

Access to higher education for undocumented students

Due to passage of HB 1079 in 2003, undocumented students who meet certain requirements are permitted to pay in-state tuition rates for college. In-state tuition rates are far less than those paid by out-of-state students or international students.

To qualify for in-state tuition, undocumented students must meet the following requirements:
  • you have lived in Washington State at least three years prior to meeting one of the following requirements;
  • you graduated from a Washington state high school and you completed your senior year of high school in Washington; or
  • you earned the equivalent of a high school diploma, such as a GED (General Educational Development) certificate.

Click HB 1079 to learn more information about accessing and completing college.

SB6523 - The Real Hope Act

In 2014, the state Legislature approved SB 6523, the REAL Hope Act. Because of SB 6523, undocumented students may apply for state-funded financial aid for college if:

  • You qualify for in-state tuition under HB 1079.

  • Note: To be considered for financial aid, you must apply. There is no guarantee you will receive funding, however you should apply as soon as you are able. Usually, the best time to apply is when you apply for admission to the college or university of your choice.

    Click www.readysetgrad.org/wasfa to apply for financial aid under the REAL Hope Act.

    DACA - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

    In June 2012, President Obama issued an order for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to allow undocumented youth a temporary stay from deportation. The President’s order is known as Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA).

    DACA allows youth who qualify to live and work in the U.S. for a period of two years; after two years, they may re-apply for additional two-year periods.

    DACA does not grant permanent legal status or citizenship. It provides a temporary work permit that can be renewed every two years.

    Who qualifies?

    To qualify for DACA, you must be able to show that you:
    • came to the U.S. before age 16
    • were 30 years of age or younger as of June 15, 2012
    • continuously lived in the U.S. for at least five years
    • arrived in the U.S. on or before June 15, 2012
    • are currently in school
    • have graduated from high school or received a GED; or
    • have been honorably discharged from the U.S. military
    • have not been convicted of a felony offense, a misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, and do not pose a threat to national security.

    For more information:

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