For years, Washington state has failed to fully fund its financial-aid program for low-income college students. This school year, about 18,000 people qualified for Washington’s State Need Grant, but didn’t get an award because of the program’s limited budget.
That is now set to change. Not only did Washington lawmakers approve a plan to fully fund the college grant program, eliminating the wait list over the next two years, they’re expanding who qualifies — and making the awards guaranteed.
The expansive higher-education plan the Legislature approved last month will make college tuition free for families making up to 55 percent of the state’s median family income, or up to $50,400 for a family of four. The plan will do so by creating a dedicated account for college and workforce-education investments, paid for by an increase in taxes on certain professional service businesses, as well as on high-tech companies.