In addition to Evergreen’s budget requests, the college participates in a system-wide focus on college affordability as a top priority for Evergreen this legislative session. The State Need Grant, which provides funding to low-income students, is drastically underfunded. Over 25,000 students qualify for the grant, but do not receive funding. With over 50% of Evergreen students qualifying as low income, additional State Need Grant funding would be very impactful.
Higher education is speaking loud and clear when it comes to affordability. On Thursday February 2nd, the Trustees and Regents from the public four-year institutions and the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges spoke with legislators about just how vital funding higher education is in Washington. About thirty Trustees and Regents met with twenty-four legislators and Governor Inslee to express their unified support of keeping higher education funding and State Need Grant funding a priority in this biennial budget.
In addition, students from across the state held a Student Aid Alliance Advocacy Day on Tuesday, February 7th with the focus of fully funding the State Need Grant. Students from all over Washington traveled to Olympia to tell legislators their stories of how the State Need Grant changed their lives.
While the State Need Grant is the biggest form of state-based aid, it is just one type of higher education aid funding available to students. From tuition to textbooks, the legislature is currently working on a variety of bills to address college affordability overall:
- House Bill 1057 / Senate Bill 5022: Providing information to students about education loans.
- Requires a post-secondary institution to send a notification with education loan information, including the estimated total payoff and monthly repayment amounts, to an enrolled student who has education loans the institution has certified.
- House Bill 1440 / Senate Bill 5210: Establishing a student loan bill of rights.
- Creates the Student Education Loan Ombuds to receive, review, and provide assistance to student education loan borrowers who file complaints.
- Requires student education loan servicers to obtain a license from the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) to operate in the state, and permits the DFI to establish fees.
- Prohibits third-party student education loan modification servicers from various practices that may misrepresent the student loan situation or encourage a borrower to do something counterproductive to their situation.
- House Bill 1840 / Senate Bill 5666: Establishing the Washington Promise Program.
- Establishes the Washington Promise Program to provide free community and technical college tuition and fees to eligible students.
- Provides a $1,500 cost of attendance stipend for students who have a family income that does not exceed 70 percent of the state median family income.
- House Bill 1169 – Enacting the student opportunity, assistance, and relief act.
- Establishes a student education loan debt hotline and website where borrowers can receive assistance from student education loan debt counselors on their student education loans.
- House Bill 1561 – Concerning open educational resources.
- Requires the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) to administer the Open Educational Resources (OER) Grant Pilot Program for the public, four-year institutions of higher education.
- Requires the WSAC to conduct outreach to other states and higher education agencies to identify if there is interest in establishing a multistate OER network.
- Requires the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to conduct a study on the costs of textbooks and course materials and on the use of OER at the public, four- year institutions of higher education.
- Senate Bill 5017 – Requiring that student loan information be provided to students.
- Requires eligible institutions of higher education, that receive education loan information for a student enrolled in the eligible institution, to provide specific information to the student.
- Senate Bill 5568 – Freezing tuition at institutions of higher education.
- Requires tuition operating fees for resident undergraduates at community and technical colleges, in the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 academic years, to remain the same as the fee set in the 2016-2017 academic year.
- Senate Bill 5100 – Requiring live financial literacy seminars for students at institutions of higher education.
- By the 2017-18 academic year, each institution of higher education must take reasonable steps to ensure each enrolled student participates in a live financial literacy seminar as early as possible in the academic year.
Keep up to date with the current status of 2017 higher education bills by visiting the Evergreen Office of Government Relations Bill Tracker.