Prioritizing College Affordability & a Sustainable Tomorrow

Welcome to the 2024 Legislative Session!

Dear friends and neighbors,  

 The 2024 legislative session is officially underway, spanning 60 days of discussions, decisions, and opportunities to shape the future of our state. Thank you so much to those of you who responded to my last survey—so far, you have indicated that your top 7 priorities (those receiving 25% or more support) are Affordable Housing and Homelessness, K-12 Education, Environment and Climate Change, Gun Violence reduction, Public Safety, Transportation and Behavioral Health. 

Click here to take this week’s survey—I’d love to hear what you think about some of the most controversial bills that have been introduced ahead of this session.  

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Thanks for stopping by!

Thank you to everyone who joined Rep. Hackney and me at the mini town hall on January 6th. It was an invaluable opportunity to connect with you and gain insight into the issues that matter most to our community ahead of the 2024 legislative session. 

A wide range of topics were important to you, reflecting the diverse concerns of our constituents. The topics we discussed most of all were affordable housing and public safety, but I also had conversations about gun safety, transportation, healthcare access, the state budget, social services, behavioral health, and college affordability.  

Your voices are what guide our work in the legislature. Thank you for your advocacy.  

mini town hall

Washington 13 Free Guarantee Here’s how to share your legislative priorities this session:

This session, one of my legislative priorities is the Washington 13 Free Guarantee, a bill I’ve introduced to make higher education more accessible.  

This means each year, recent high school graduates, no matter their income, would be eligible to earn up to 45 credits at community or technical college. To qualify, students must have graduated from a Washington high school or earned a GED in the state. They need to enroll in a community or technical college within the same or immediately following academic year of graduation or GED attainment, meeting other criteria mentioned in the bill. 

The bill also makes sure to help cover the cost of books and related expenses and provides extra services for eligible students. There’s also a study in place to check that the 13 Free Guarantee can keep helping students in the long run. 

This also ensures one-on-one meetings with 12th-grade students who qualify for additional financial support, to ensure all of their Higher Education options are adequately communicated to them. 

This bill is all about making higher education reachable for everyone, creating a brighter future for our community. I’m proud to lead this effort and can’t wait to see the positive impact it will have on the lives of our students. 

A Sustainable Tomorrow: The WA State Green Schools Program

Another priority of mine is HB 1935, a bill that aims to pave the way for a greener and more sustainable future by establishing the Washington state green schools program. By creating voluntary initiatives and associated grants, the legislation seeks to encourage student leadership opportunities and enhance resource conservation practices in public schools.  

The program, administered by the office of the superintendent of public instruction, focuses on waste reduction, energy reduction, water conservation, urban forestry education, and environmental preservation. It also places a strong emphasis on providing educational and student lead promotion of environmentally friendly practices in our schools. 

This bill was inspired by the King County Green Schools program.  

Exciting News for College-Bound Students

The new, revised, and simplified FAFSA form for college aid is here! From a streamlined application process to increased financial assistance opportunities, here’s what you need to know for the 2024-25 academic year: 

Less is More: The redesigned FAFSA has fewer questions, making it easier than ever to apply for grants, work-study jobs, and loans. 

Student Aid Index (SAI): The SAI now calculates your ability to pay for college, with more income protected and changes benefiting students with children. 

Pell Grant Boost: Over 2.1 million more students could now qualify for a full Pell Grant, providing substantial aid for those with exceptional financial need. 

Easy Application: Create your ID on the Federal Student Aid website. The deadline is June 30, 2025. 

Soft Launch: While the form is already available online, the Education Department will monitor and fix issues until later in January.  

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for more updates throughout the 2024 session!  


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Rep. Steve Bergquist