The state's Board of Higher Education has approved a measure to extend eligibility for a merit-based scholarship to immigrant students who are in the country with limited legal statuses.
The John and Abigail Adams Scholarship pays for up to eight semesters of tuition at state colleges and universities and is awarded based on a student's test scores and academic performance.
Four students with varying legal statuses filed a lawsuit arguing they should be eligible for the scholarship because of their high test scores.
State Education Secretary James Peyser, who voted in favor of the change, says the policy aligns the state with President Obama's executive orders on immigration.
"Well, the feds have determined at this point that these people are here legally," Peyser said, ahead of the vote. "They may live here and work here and we are just aligning our state policy with that federal law."
Eva Millona, the executive director for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, says this is a big victory for immigrants living in Massachusetts.
"The fact that the board voted 10 to 0 for such students to be allowed to really claim the John and Abigail Adams scholarship really increases access," Millona says. "And the other thing we're happy about is that it was a bipartisan effort."
Previously the scholarship was only awarded to U.S. citizens and green card holders. It's unknown how many students would become eligible for the scholarship.
This article was originally published on October 27, 2015.