House OKs Rep. Hansen’s higher-education bills

Colleges would reach out directly to high-achieving, low-income high schoolers to boost their admission rates under a bill by Rep. Drew Hansen that won approval in the state House Feb. 14 – the third of three Hansen higher-education measures to make that grade in the week.

 Nieto, Lilia“One of our fundamental values in this country is that every kid should have the opportunity to succeed — and nowhere is that more important than in the choice of where to go to college,” Hansen said on the House floor in support of his House Bill 2694.

Modeled after a program that produced dramatic results — students who received the mailers applied to 20% more colleges and were 30% more likely to gain admission to a selective institution — the bill calls for the state to mail  information about public and private colleges, including financial aid information and application fee waivers, to high-achieving, low-income high school students.

“I actually love this bill,” Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-Issaquah, told his colleagues.  “We talk about the achievement gap and the opportunity gap, and here is a great opportunity to narrow both. All too often kids don’t achieve because they don’t take advantage of existing opportunities.”

And Republican Rep. Jesse Young of Gig Harbor said in support of the bill, “To empower these kids with knowledge and to empower them with opportunity will set them on a path to success for the rest of their lives.”

The 81-15 vote for the bill sends it the Senate.

Two other higher-education measures by Hansen, a Kitsap County Democrat, were advanced to the Senate by the House earlier this week. They are:

House Bill 2651, which requires state universities and colleges, including community colleges, to provide information about their income and spending on a public web site, for review by parents and students considering schools. Included among income categories would be tuition, state support, gifts, and revenue from athletics; spending categories would include instruction, research, student services, administration  and athletics.

House Bill 2612, which strengthens administration of investments by the Opportunity Scholarship Program to provide financial aid for low- and middle-income college students studying in science, technology, engineering or math. The program receives support from public and private contributions.