In a landmark session, the Virginia House of Delegates today voted for the first time to approve HB 1547, a bill which would expand in-state tuition eligibility to undocumented students at Virginia’s public colleges and universities. The bill, also known as the Virginia Dream Act, was introduced by Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) and passed after many years of advocacy and hard work.
“This is an incredible victory for so many young people across Virginia who want nothing more than the opportunity to earn a higher education,” said Lopez. “Thousands of young people in our state are locked out from an affordable college education, which has a dramatic impact on the long-term ability of those students to earn income throughout their lifetimes. Expanding eligibility for in-state tuition fulfills the promises and investments made in these students, many of whom were brought to our Commonwealth at a young age through no fault of their own.”
“This is also an emotional victory for me and my family. My father was once undocumented and my mother dedicated her career as an educator to helping undocumented students find ways to pay for college. This bill was the first I ever introduced in the House of Delegates and I have continued to fight for this policy in their honor year after year. I am so proud to be able to say that we finally got it passed.”
HB 1547 ends the uncertainty of affordable education access for undocumented students who graduate high school in Virginia. To be eligible for in-state tuition rates at a Virginia public college or university, undocumented students will have to have graduated from a Virginia high school since July 1, 2008, and attended a high school in Virginia for at least two years.
Any student who meets these criteria would be eligible for in-state tuition regardless of immigration or citizenship status, except for international students studying in the U.S. under certain educational or training visas.
The Virginia Dream Act will now be heard in the Senate of Virginia, where it will need to be passed by the full Senate and signed by the Governor in order to become law. The full text of HB 1547 can be accessed here.