OLYMPIA, Wash. – Students receiving the State Need Grant are urging the Washington State Legislature to fully fund the grant program so that more students can afford higher education.
Last year, 24,000 students were eligible but did not receive grants because the program wasn’t properly funded.
The State Need Grant makes higher education attainable for people who come from low-income families.
Norma Heredia says she didn’t consider applying to Whitworth University until she heard of this grant. She’s the first in her family to go to college and says it means a lot to her parents.
“Pursuing higher education is one of the ways that my parents can see that their hard work has paid off, and I think that goes for all families in low income,” she states. “So it’s seeing their children prosper and going through that upward mobility.”
Senate Bill 5820, currently before the Rules Committee, would add a grade point average requirement to the grant. Opponents of this bill argue it might leave more students without aid.
According to a 2014 legislative report, students receiving the grant have a low dropout rate. From 94 to 98 percent of full-time students re-enrolled in the spring.
Last month, grant recipients gathered at the Capitol to speak in front of the Legislature and with lawmakers.
Megan Filippello, a senior at Walla Walla University, was there among more than 150 of her peers. She hopes other students will get to benefit from this program as she has.
“I think it will make a difference to a lot of students in Washington who are like me and who would really benefit from it, and it could make the difference, you know, in whether they go to college or not,” she states.
A bill in the House, HB 1214, would expand need grant recipients by 12,000 students a year beginning in 2022. It has been in the House Committee on Higher Education since January.
Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed the Legislature set aside $146 million in the budget this biennium to expand the grants’ reach from 70,000 to 84,000 students.
Featured Image: Students from Walla Walla University gathered in Olympia last month to urge lawmakers to fully fund the State Need Grant. (Jose Acosta/Walla Walla University)
Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He's also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.