Rep. Drew Hansen (D-Bainbridge Island) introduced a bill on Thursday to guarantee financial aid for eligible college students. The Washington College Promise Scholarship will replace the State Need Grant as Washington’s primary financial aid program for low-income students.
“This is a promise to struggling families in Washington State: we will pick up your tuition to help you have a shot at a better life,” Said Rep. Hansen. “This is a priority for me and for the Governor.”
If passed, the Washington College Promise Scholarship would retain many of the eligibility criteria that the State Need Grant currently uses, but guarantees that any student would receive the scholarship for which they qualify. In 2017, roughly 25% of students who qualified for assistance did not receive it. The Washington College Promise Scholarship would ensure that all qualifying students receive the scholarship they are awarded. In addition to students attending traditional four-year schools, community and technical colleges, those that plan to attend certificate programs or certified apprenticeship programs would also qualify for the Washington College Promise Scholarship.
“There are plenty of ways to get a good job and provide for your family,” Hansen said. “If a four-year college degree at the University of Washington is the right fit for you, then we’ll support you in that. If a thirteen-week welding certificate at a community college is the right fit, we’ll support you in that. And if a registered apprenticeship is the right fit, we’ll support you in that.”
“Not having immediate or sufficient funds to go to college makes it hard for students like me to pursue the education we need to thrive. The State Need Grant paved the way for me to attend college,” said Daniela Suarez, a junior at the University of Washington, Seattle. “There is so much potential across the state in students like me, who are focused and driven to succeed. Guaranteeing that students will receive the financial aid they qualify for will help so many realize their potential.”
Hansen is the chair of the House College & Workforce Development Committee, which will be hearing the bill next week.