In The News: Pair of proposed bills would offer free community college to eligible Washington students

“Washington ranks among the lowest states in the country in terms of the number of residents who apply for federal student aid to fund a postsecondary education.
And community colleges are struggling to meet students’ needs nationwide. In the United States today, 16% of students who enroll in community college complete a degree in three years and only 28% complete one within eight years, according to state Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle.
“We are failing,” Pollet testified at a legislative committee hearing Tuesday. “We are in the bottom half of the nation in terms of postsecondary enrollments, despite having the most generous college grant, financial aid in the nation.”
Pollet and a group of his fellow lawmakers hope to turn those bleak numbers around with a pair of bills aiming to increase the number of Washingtonians who submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or a Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WAFSA). In doing so, education experts say applicants will realize just how much state and federal cash they qualify for to help them pay for college or technical school.
“Students don’t understand that, indeed, postsecondary education is for them and is going to be available,” Pollet said.
Public hearings were held for the pair of bills in the state House Postsecondary Education & Workforce Committee. The bills, Pollet said, are meant to work alongside each other to raise financial aid application rates through offering eligible students free community college.