Proposed bill would provide free college tuition to some students | 2018 Legislative Session

Proposed bill would provide free college tuition to some students | 2018 Legislative Session

OLYMPIA – A proposal to establish the Evergreen Free College Program would phase in funding to pay tuition for students from low and middle income families.

SB 6101 applies to state residents enrolled in a state university or community college with 45 credits and maintaining a grade point average of 2.0 or above. A student would also have to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or Washington Application for State Financial Aid each year.

“Just as important as making sure lowest and lower income children go to college, we need to make sure those in the middle class are not forgotten,” said the bill’s prime sponsor, Senator Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island.

He said the State Need Grant, a scholarship program for the lowest income bracket, has done great work in helping low income students go to college, but his bill addresses a critical gap in education funding. In order for the state to be equitable, he said Washington state needs to fully fund the State Need Grant and provide funding for his bill.

The State Need Grant provides need-based financial aid to students in higher education who have a household income that is less than 70 percent of the state’s median family income, which is based on the number of family members. For example, under on a Washington State Department of Social and Health Services formula, a family of four making less than $5100 per month would qualify.

The proposed Evergreen Free College Program asks for $11.5 million for the biennium it would be introduced in, starting in 2019 and a total of less than $14 million for the four-year outlook period. These costs would come out of the general fund. Ranker said it’s a smart investment in the state’s youth.

“It’s a bold step in the right direction and we better take it because the issues of income have become insurmountable,” he said.

Becca Kenna-Schenk is on the Council of Presidents at Western Washington University. She said at least 20,000 students who qualify for the State Need Grant do not receive any help from the government because of the lack of funding to the program.

“The higher education community stands united,” she said. “Fully funding the State Need Grant needs to be a top priority in the legislature.”

The free college program would have a six-step phase-in period based on education level and family income. The period phases in awards starting with one year of support in the 2019-20 academic year and ending with 12 quarters, or about four years of support, in the 2024-25 academic year.

The bill was heard in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Monday, Feb. 5 and lawmakers voted to move it on to the Rules Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Washington State also has other programs meant to assist students with low income backgrounds, including the College Bound Scholarship that students apply for in middle school, and the Passport to College Promise Scholarship Program which assists youth emerging from foster care.

Taylor McAvoy is a reporter with the WNPA Olympia News Bureau.

More in News

.
Health District confirms 53 new cases of COVID-19 in Kitsap

Over the past two weeks, Kitsap County’s positive case rate per 100,000 residents is 183.3

.
State unveils COVID-19 notification app

Washington state is launching a smartphone app designed to let users know… Continue reading

.
Vaccine likely coming soon to Kitsap County

The bad news is COVID-19 rates have continued to increase in Kitsap… Continue reading

Jane Pomeroy has owned the Berry Patch Kitchen Store for 50 years in Bainbridge Island. Steve Powell/Bainbridge Island Review photos
Berry Patch, owner, still going strong after 50 years

It’s rare for a business to last 50 years. It’s rarer still… Continue reading

Brenda Fantroy-Johnson
North Ward council vacancy down to two candidates

Fantroy-Johnson, Lindley finalists for BI council spot

.
Health District confirms 64 new cases of COVID-19 in Kitsap

KPHD and hospital officials are urging action to prevent strain on the healthcare system.

Gov. Jay Inslee at the beach. HeraldNet photo
3 days of protests planned at Inslee’s BI home

Gov. Jay Inslee recommends small gatherings for Thanksgiving, due to COVID-19 spikes… Continue reading

The COVID-19 test site in Bainbridge Island is adding slots so more people can take part. Courtesy photo
BI COVID testing site can see more patients

The Bainbridge Island drive-thru COVID-19 testing site is adding eight appointments each… Continue reading

Greg Bonciolini working on the Kelly stained glass window. Courtesy Photo
Mesolini Glass Studio offers in-person show

40th Winter Show runs Dec. 4-6

Most Read