Several hundred elated students erupted into cheers of "Yes we can! Yes we can in Spanish," outside the Senate chambers when the vote was announced.
Sen. Victor Ramirez (D) sponsored the bill that would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at Maryland's state colleges and universities.
Surrounded by youngsters Ramirez, himself an immigrant, was teary-eyed.
"I'm very proud of them because they haven't given up. They're very resilient, and I know they're gonna do great things -- that's what the American dream is about," he says.
To qualify, undocumented students must attend a Maryland high school for at least three years, and they have to go to their county's community college first before they can go to a four year institution.
Most Republicans voted against the measure, expressing many of the same objections voiced by Sen. Bryan Simonaire of Anne Arundel.
"It's unfair to those who played by the rules, it's fiscally ill-timed and inprudent and it directly rewards those who have unashamedly broken our laws," he says.
The measure will now go before the House of Delegates.