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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Republican Senator Pushes Back On College Aid For Undocumented Students

Washington Legislature
Washington state Senator Janea Holmquist Newbry

A bipartisan plan in the Washington legislature to give undocumented students access to college aid is coming under fire.

A Republican state senator from eastern Washington has introduced a measure to amend the so-called Real Hope Act. This change would give priority to lawful residents when it comes to limited financial aid dollars.

The Real Hope Act passed the Washington Senate with broad bipartisan support. It expands college scholarships for low-income students to include high school graduates who came to this country illegally with their parents.

Last year, the program already had a waiting list of 32,000 eligible students. State Senator Janea Holmquist Newbry says that’s a problem.

“If we’re going to add more kids to the queue let’s have them go to the back of the line instead of being able to go to the front of the line and bump these kids that have already been waiting,” she says.

Holmquist Newbry is a Republican from Grant County, Wash., where Latinos make up nearly 40 percent of the population. She says within that immigrant community are families with legal status who don’t think their kids should have to compete with undocumented students for college aid.

Sponsors of the so-called Real Hope Act say the program should award students money based on financial need, not whether they have legal status or not.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."