Free College Tuition, More High-Demand Degrees, Become Reality for Over a Hundred Thousand Washington Students

OLYMPIA – Washington will keep its promise to make public college tuition-free for low-income students after the Legislature passed an update to the Workforce Education Investment Act. This major workforce education investment will help people get the training and credentials they need for a family-wage job.

Last year, Washington State Democrats led the nation by ensuring that more students could go to college or participate in apprenticeships through free or reduced tuition. The law needed some changes this year, to make sure Washington honors the promise made to students and workers. Last week, the Legislature made those changes and today, the Governor signed them.

“We are keeping our promise to students and making sure that Washington jobs will be filled with Washington students,” said Representative Frank Chopp (D-Seattle).  “By providing free and reduced college tuition to those who need it the most, we’re investing in our future and setting a model for the entire nation.”

“This bill allows us to keep our commitment to make public college tuition-free for over a hundred thousand Washington students,” said Representative Drew Hansen (D-Bainbridge Island), sponsor of last year’s Workforce Education Investment Act. “Starting this Fall, families across Washington will be able to take advantage of this free tuition promise, whether they want to study at a community college, a university such as the UW or WSU, or pursue training for an apprenticeship.”

The Workforce Education Investment Act will give students with family income of less than $50,000 a full-tuition scholarship to college or apprenticeship training through the Washington College Grant, which incorporates and expands on the State Need Grant. It also provides partial tuition scholarships to families earning up to 100% of Median Family Income.

The program also invests in preparing Washington students for Washington jobs by expanding the successful Guided Pathways program at the state’s community and technical colleges and expanding high-demand degree programs across the state in fields such as nursing, engineering, and computer science. Expanding those high-demand degree programs will produce more Washington workers for Washington jobs.