Understanding the Law

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)

There is no federal law that requires proof of citizenship for admission to U.S. colleges. The changes of the federal DACA program does not affect a student's eligibility to attend college in Washington State. In-state tuition (HB 1079) and state financial aid (WASFA) are still available for eligible students and do not require a student to have DACA status. 

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was established by President Obama in 2012. It granted a form of temporary relief from deportation known as "deferred action" to undocumented youth who came to the U.S. before the age of 16, resided in the U.S. since June 2007 and met other requirements. More than 800,000 undocumented youth nationwide receive this temporary relief. In Washington, approximately 18,000 undocumented youth are DACA recipients and the City of Seattle estimates about one-third to one-half of them live in Seattle-King County.

DACA Update

To learn more about the current status of the DACA program, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

For DACA Recipients

If you currently have DACA, you will be allowed to retain both DACA and your work authorization (Employment Authorization Documents - EAD) until they expire, unless terminated or revoked. To see when your DACA and work permit expires, look at your I-795 Approval Notice and the bottom of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

HB 1079: In-State Tuition

Effective July 1, 2003, HB 1079 allows any student, including presumed undocumented students who meet specific criteria, to pay in-state tuition at Washington's public colleges and universities. To qualify for resident tuition, students must complete an affidavit affirming they have met the following conditions:

  • Resided in Washington State for three (3) years immediately prior to receiving a high school diploma, and completed the full senior year at a Washington high school; or
  • Completed the equivalent of a high school diploma (GED) and resided in Washington State for the three (3) years immediately before receiving the equivalent of the diploma; and
  • Continuously resided in Washington State since earning the high school diploma or its equivalent

In addition to certifying they have met these conditions, the affidavit states that the student will file for permanent residency at the earliest opportunity the student is eligible.

SB 6523: The REAL Hope Act

On February 26, 2014, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law the REAL Hope Act (SB 6523). Beginning with the 2014–15 academic year, this new law expands eligibility for the Washington State Need Grant to non–citizens who qualify for in-state tuition under HB 1079 and meet other eligibility requirements such as:

  • Must graduate from a Washington high school or earn a GED or equivalent after living in Washington for at least three (3) years
  • Both students with or without DACA can qualify.

The Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) application was created due to the passage of this law for students to apply for state financial aid. See Funding Your Education for more information.