Washington passes $5 million to support undocumented students
In accordance with House Bill 1368, the emergency relief grant will provide eligible undocumented students financial assistance to help students afford essentials.
Eligible undocumented students in Washington colleges will soon have access to $5 million in emergency funding. The Washington Student Achievement Council is collaborating with colleges to implement the Emergency Relief Grant program.
According to the WSAC website, the Emergency Relief Grant fund will be available to resident undocumented individuals who demonstrate financial need, have submitted the Washington Application for State Financial Aid, did not qualify for federally funded student financial aid due to their citizenship status, and if they’ve been enrolled or will be enrolling as a student in the 2020-2021 academic year.
The funding for the $5 million comes from House Bill 1368 which was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee in Feb. 2021.
The WSAC’s Director of Student Financial Assistance, Becky Thompson, explained that the $5 million for undocumented students makes up part of a larger bill with a total of $2.2 billion dollars used in the support of other programs.
“This relief program bill includes $2.2 billion dollars of federal aid that is providing assistance to a very wide range of agencies including K-12 education, housing and much larger than just the $5 million for Student Relief Grants for undocumented students,” Thompson said.
According to the WSAC website, colleges can deliver more funds to students from the undocumented student population if they meet residency and other criteria, such as being in a short-term certificate or graduate program.
However, the website explained further noting that colleges may distribute the funds to students in need until June 30, 2021. Students who previously received Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act’s (CARES) will not have access to these new funds.
Despite these previous acts, the majority of undocumented students have not benefitted from many of the relief programs proposed because most of the bills have benefitted only students with American citizenship. Due to this, Thompson said the emergency relief grant to support undocumented students is especially needed at this time.
“Because undocumented students have been ineligible for the federal relief funds provided under the traditional federal funds referred to as HEERF, CARES, CRF, CRSSA, this will provide what is likely much needed relief,” she said.
Thompson explained that those who may not meet all of the requirements for eligibility don’t need to lose hope, as they may still be eligible for aid. She also provided some insight on applying for financial aid for the next academic year.
“If they haven’t applied for state financial aid for either 2020-21 and/or 2021-22 academic year, it is not too late,” she said. “The first step is to complete an application for state financial assistance, at www.readysetgrad.org/wasfa.”
Another state aid program, available for all students is the Washington College Grant. It can be filed at – https://wsac.wa.gov/wcg. Students eligible for federal aid must submit a FAFSA instead of a WASFA.