MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Gov. Inslee outlines plan for statewide free college program

Jan 14, 2019, 1:13 PM

Washington Governor Jay Inslee unveiled plans Friday to provide guaranteed financial aid to 93,000 college students statewide.

RELATED: How Inslee plans to pay for and operate Cascade Care

Gov. Inslee’s plan would convert Washington’s State Need Grant into “Washington’s College Promise” grant. Currently, the State Need Grant provides aid to about three out of every four eligible college students who apply.

According to the governor’s office, that leaves tens of thousands of students stuck on a financial aid wait list. The new program will aim to provide guaranteed funds to all eligible students.

“Every student in Washington state should have the opportunity to get the higher education they need. I’m excited to talk about the big steps we’re taking to make this opportunity a reality,” Gov. Inslee said in a Friday news release.

The governor’s program will need $103 million of the $280 million the governor set aside for higher education in his proposed 2019-2021 budget. It would serve the additional 18,000 eligible students who remain unserved by financial aid.

“Governor Inslee’s College Promise proposal will support all students who want to attend college to go, regardless of their financial ability to pay tuition,” said Maud Daudon, chair of the Washington Student Achievement Council.

Right now, eligibility for state college grants boils down to a pair of qualifiers:

  • Must be “disadvantaged,” which according to state law, means any student with adverse cultural, educational, environmental, or familial circumstances.
  • As an alternative to disadvantaged, a student must qualify as “needy,” which encompasses anyone who demonstrates “financial inability” to pay for higher education.

Gov. Inslee’s other higher education budget proposals include added capacity for STEM courses, a scholarship for 50 students who commit to working in “high demand behavioral health fields,” expanded worker training, and more.

RELATED: Inslee proposes public health care option in Washington state

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Gov. Inslee outlines plan for statewide free college program