On Friday, hundreds of Latino students will visit with lawmakers in Olympia. One of their top issues relates a state-funded college scholarship. As KUOW’s Liz Jones reports, they want undocumented students to be eligible for this money, too.
The state's College Bound Scholarship program is for low-income, middle school students. And when people talk about it, they tend to use the word "promise" a lot.
Students sign a promise to meet the college prep goals. And in return, the state pledges to cover their college tuition for four years.
It didn’t work out quite that way for UW-Tacoma student Christina Montaño.
Montaño: “I mean I was really disappointed because it was a promise that was made to me as a middle schooler. And I really thought that it was going to be something that was really going to help me.”
Montaño’s middle school counselor encouraged her do the program. She followed the rules, kept up her grades, and stayed out of trouble.
Fast forward to junior year of high school, when Montaño went to fill out the scholarship application.
Montaño: “I got to the part where it asked about social security and then I kind of freaked out.”
Because Montaño is undocumented, she couldn't complete the form. It was a blow.
Hudgins: “All kids have access to that promise and to that scholarship.”
That’s Representative Zack Hudgins. He’s drafted a bill to extend this scholarship to undocumented students.
Previously, Hudgins sponsored a similar bill, alternately called the Dream Act, or Real Hope Act. It opened up state financial aid to all students, regardless of their legal status.
Some lawmakers pushed back, but it passed last year with overwhelming bipartisan support. Hudgins hopes to see similar backing for this scholarship effort, eventually.
Hudgins: "If we get the broad support we had for the Real Hope Act, for the Dream Act, then I don’t think this is a big deal. But that took a long time to do. That took seven years."
Hudgins says details of his proposal are still being worked out.
College student Montaño says that 4-year tuition guarantee would’ve been a huge relief and saved her from the ongoing hunt for scholarships.
Montaño: "It worries me because I know I’m not completely set for next year."
Last school year, nearly 33,000 middle school students signed up for the state's College Bound program. It’s expected to cost the state $72 million for this current two-year cycle.