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Great news for low-income post-secondary students and apprentices

Olympia—Washington’s new two-year budget makes a historic commitment to educational opportunity for Washington residents. For eligible students, the maximum award will cover full tuition and fees at public colleges and universities. Students can also use the grant at any of Washington’s eligible private colleges and universities.

Another significant change to state financial aid is that the Washington College Grant will also serve people in registered apprenticeships. They can use the grant to pay for tuition and required equipment. The budget included apprenticeships as part of Career Connect Washington, an initiative that creates new pathways to post-secondary credentials.

Removing financial barriers to degrees and credentials is crucial to ensuring Washingtonians can compete for living-wage jobs in their home state. In less than five years, 70 percent of Washington jobs will require education or training beyond high school. Currently, only 53 percent of adults age 25-44 have a post-secondary credential.

Beginning in the 2020-21 academic year, the Washington College Grant will be a guarantee for eligible state residents at or below median family income (MFI), which is currently $91,766 for a family of four.

The state’s existing financial aid program, State Need Grant, is not a guarantee for all eligible students. This year alone, 18,000 did not receive grants because of budget constraints.

By 2020-21, the new budget will eliminate the waitlist of students who are eligible, but unserved, and expand service to many new families as well. Currently, the state’s financial aid program doesn’t serve families with incomes higher than 70 percent of MFI, or $61,500 for a family of four. 

Washington has invested in a program with proven success in increasing educational attainment. Research shows that students who receive State Need Grant are more likely to finish their degree and have less debt when they graduate. That degree positions graduates for a lifetime of increased earnings compared to adults with only a high school diploma. People with an associate or bachelor’s degree can expect lifetime earnings of $1.7 to $2.3 million compared to only $1.3 million for people with only a high school diploma.

Governor Inslee and the Legislature faced many competing priorities this session and still consistently advanced policy and funding proposals to fund need-based aid for students. From the Governor’s proposed budget in December to the passage of House Bill 2158 this past weekend, we applaud their commitment to investing in our current and future workforce.

Source: Canevale, Anthony P., Stephen J. Rose, and Ban Cheah. "Executive Summary: The College Payoff." Accessed March 13, 2019. https://1gyhoq479ufd3yna29x7ubjn-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/collegepayoff-summary.pdf

About the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) The Washington Student Achievement Council is committed to increasing educational opportunities and attainment in Washington.

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