Dear friends and neighbors,
It’s that time of year when high school seniors are figuring out what they’re going to do next. For many, higher education is the next step, either at a community college or technical school, or at a four-year college or university. Others may enter into apprenticeship programs to train for highly skilled jobs throughout our state.
Higher education should be accessible and affordable to every qualified student who wants to pursue it. That’s why I’m excited the Legislature passed several measures this year to expand higher ed opportunities to more Washingtonians. Read below for details about expansion of state financial aid, a new student loan bill of rights, and an exciting new opportunity for pre-law studies right here in Tacoma.
I also want to remind you about two upcoming events. Next Tuesday, May 1st, I’m hosting a community conversation event together with Rep. Jake Fey and Sen. Jeannie Darneille. It’s from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the Bay Terrace Community Room, 2550 South G Street, Tacoma. Parking is available along the street or in the Goodwill parking lot. For more information, contact my district office at 253-593-2033.
Rep. Fey, Sen. Darneille and I are also hosting a telephone town hall on May 8th from 6-7 p.m. We’ll be calling households across the district and answering your questions live during the call. Federal regulations prevent us from calling wireless numbers, though, so if you want to sign up to participate with a mobile phone please click here and then click on “Sign Up.”
It’s an honor serving as your representative.
GREAT NEWS! State increases access to financial aid for higher education
I’m so pleased the Legislature approved expansion of access to financial aid. This will help more students afford college, technical school or apprenticeship training, so they can prepare for the jobs our economy is creating:
State Need Grant wait list to be phased out
State lawmakers have committed to eliminate the funding backlog for the State Need Grant (SNG), Washington’s principal financial aid program. A $116 million investment during the current four-year budgeting period will eliminate three-quarters of the backlog, with the Legislature stating its intention to eliminate the remaining quarter by fiscal year 2021. An additional 4,600 students statewide who would otherwise need to incur debt or forgo college due to lack of funds will be able to access the State Need Grant over the next year alone.
Opportunity Scholarship expands to include professional-technical certificates and degrees
The Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program (WSOS) helps low- and middle-income Washington state residents earn their bachelor’s degrees in the high-demand fields of science, technology, engineering, math, and health care. But not everyone entering these fields seeks a four-year degree. This year, legislators expanded the program to students pursuing professional-technical certificates and degrees.
Scholarships for foster, homeless youth expanded to include apprenticeship costs
The state’s successful Passport to College Promise program provides scholarships for foster youth that covers tuition and living expenses for college. The program is now expanded to include apprenticeship costs and renamed the Passport to Careers program. It will be available to youth in federal or tribal foster care in addition to state foster care, as well as to youth who have experienced homelessness. These students – who don’t have the support system so many of their peers have – deserve the same opportunities to pursue their higher education dreams.
Governor signs Student Loan Bill of Rights
If you’re making student loan payments, you are not alone. Nearly 800,000 Washingtonians are currently paying off their college education. I made my final student loan payment last fall, over 25 years after graduating from law school. This year, we passed a student loan bill of rights establishing a range of provisions designed to protect borrowers from deceptive or predatory practices. Student loan servicers are now required to obtain licenses to operate in the state. A Student Education Loan Advocate is also established to aid borrowers, compile data, provide information on student loans, and receive, review, and take action on complaints from borrowers. It’s a big consumer protection victory.
Coming soon: Pre-law and social justice programs at UW Tacoma
The 2018 supplemental budget included funding for a pre-law pipeline and social justice program at UW Tacoma. There are many students in the South Sound who want to pursue a legal career but are place bound because of work and family commitments. Beyond this, there is increasing demand for legal skills that will help give our South Sound community members access to justice. Enter the UW pre-law and social justice program. This program will prepare students for law school and for other legal careers with an eye toward developing a law school on the UW-Tacoma campus.
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is April 28!
This Saturday, April 28th, is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Clean out your medicine cabinet and safely dispose of old prescriptions to prevent accidental poisoning, drug abuse, and contamination of our environment. Click here to find the nearest secure dropbox and other information about the take-back event.
Apply to the Legislative Scholar Program for Teachers
Calling all teachers…every year the Washington State Legislature sponsors a program on state government for elementary, middle school, and high school social studies teachers. This four and a half day experience takes place in Olympia July 16-20, 2018. Teachers can receive up to 35 clock hours through ESD 113. Click here for more information and to apply.