|Passed by the House April 14, 2007|
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Passed by the Senate April 11, 2007
President of the Senate
I, Richard Nafziger, Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives of the State of Washington, do hereby certify that the attached is ENGROSSED SUBSTITUTE HOUSE BILL 1131 as passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on the dates hereon set forth.
|Approved May 4, 2007, 3:15 p.m.|
Governor of the State of Washington
May 7, 2007
Secretary of State
State of Washington
|State of Washington||60th Legislature||2007 Regular Session|
READ FIRST TIME 02/28/07.
AN ACT Relating to helping former foster care youth gain postsecondary education and providing scholarships to former foster care youth for this purpose; adding a new chapter to Title 28B RCW; and providing an expiration date.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1 (1)(a) The legislature finds that in
Washington, there are more than seven thousand three hundred children
in foster family or group care. These children face unique obstacles
and burdens as they transition to adulthood, including lacking
continuity in their elementary and high school educations. As compared
to the general population of students, twice as many foster care youth
change schools at least once during their elementary and secondary
school careers, and three times as many change schools at least three
times. Only thirty-four percent of foster care youth graduate from
high school within four years, compared to seventy percent for the
general population. Of the former foster care youth who earn a high
school diploma, more than twenty-eight percent earn a GED instead of a
traditional high school diploma. This is almost six times the rate of
the general population. Research indicates that GED holders tend not
to be as economically successful as the holders of traditional high
school diplomas. Only twenty percent of former foster care youth who
earn a high school degree enroll in college, compared to over sixty
percent of the population generally. Of the former foster care youth
who do enroll in college, very few go on to earn a degree. Less than
two percent of former foster care youth hold bachelor's degrees,
compared to twenty-eight percent of Washington's population generally.
(b) Former foster care youth face two critical hurdles to enrolling in college. The first is a lack of information regarding preparation for higher education and their options for enrolling in higher education. The second is finding the financial resources to fund their education. As a result of the unique hurdles and challenges that face former foster care youth, a disproportionate number of them are part of society's large group of marginalized youth and are at increased risk of continuing the cycle of poverty and violence that frequently plagues their families.
(c) Former foster care youth suffer from mental health problems at a rate greater than that of the general population. For example, one in four former foster care youth report having suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder within the previous twelve months, compared to only four percent of the general population. Similarly, the incidence of major depression among former foster care youth is twice that of the general population, twenty percent versus ten percent.
(d) There are other barriers for former foster care youth to achieving successful adulthood. One-third of former foster care youth live in households that are at or below the poverty level. This is three times the rate for the general population. The percentage of former foster care youth who report being homeless within one year of leaving foster care varies from over ten percent to almost twenty-five percent. By comparison, only one percent of the general population reports having been homeless at sometime during the past year. One in three former foster care youth lack health insurance, compared to less than one in five people in the general population. One in six former foster care youth receive cash public assistance. This is five times the rate of the general population.
(e) Approximately twenty-five percent of former foster care youth are incarcerated at sometime after leaving foster care. This is four times the rate of incarceration for the general population. Of the former foster care youth who "age out" of foster care, twenty-seven percent of the males and ten percent of the females are incarcerated within twelve to eighteen months of leaving foster care.
(f) Female former foster care youth become sexually active more than seven months earlier than their nonfoster care counterparts, have more sexual partners, and have a mean age of first pregnancy of almost two years earlier than their peers who were not in foster care.
(2) The legislature intends to create the passport to college promise pilot program. The pilot program will initially operate for a six-year period, and will have two primary components, as follows:
(a) Significantly increasing outreach to foster care youth between the ages of fourteen and eighteen regarding the higher education opportunities available to them, how to apply to college, and how to apply for and obtain financial aid; and
(b) Providing financial aid to former foster care youth to assist with the costs of their public undergraduate college education.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 2 The definitions in this section apply
throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(1) "Cost of attendance" means the cost associated with attending a particular institution of higher education as determined by the higher education coordinating board, including but not limited to tuition, fees, room, board, books, personal expenses, and transportation, plus the cost of reasonable additional expenses incurred by an eligible student and approved by a financial aid administrator at the student's school of attendance.
(2) "Emancipated from foster care" means a person who was a dependent of the state in accordance with chapter 13.34 RCW and who was receiving foster care in the state of Washington when he or she reached his or her eighteenth birthday.
(3) "Financial need" means the difference between a student's cost of attendance and the student's total family contribution as determined by the method prescribed by the United States department of education.
(4) "Independent college or university" means a private, nonprofit institution of higher education, open to residents of the state, providing programs of education beyond the high school level leading to at least the baccalaureate degree, and accredited by the Northwest association of schools and colleges, and other institutions as may be developed that are approved by the higher education coordinating board as meeting equivalent standards as those institutions accredited under this section.
(5) "Institution of higher education" means:
(a) Any public university, college, community college, or technical college operated by the state of Washington or any political subdivision thereof; or
(b) Any independent college or university in Washington; or
(c) Any other university, college, school, or institute in the state of Washington offering instruction beyond the high school level that is a member institution of an accrediting association recognized by rule of the higher education coordinating board for the purposes of this section: PROVIDED, That any institution, branch, extension, or facility operating within the state of Washington that is affiliated with an institution operating in another state must be a separately accredited member institution of any such accrediting association, or a branch of a member institution of an accrediting association recognized by rule of the board for purposes of this section, that is eligible for federal student financial aid assistance and has operated as a nonprofit college or university delivering on-site classroom instruction for a minimum of twenty consecutive years within the state of Washington, and has an annual enrollment of at least seven hundred full-time equivalent students.
(6) "Program" means the passport to college promise pilot program created in this chapter.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 3 The passport to college promise pilot
program is created. The purpose of the program is:
(1) To encourage current and former foster care youth to prepare for, attend, and successfully complete higher education; and
(2) To provide current and former foster care youth with the educational planning, information, institutional support, and direct financial resources necessary for them to succeed in higher education.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 4 (1) The higher education coordinating board
shall design and, to the extent funds are appropriated for this
implement, a program of supplemental scholarship and student
assistance for students who have emancipated from the state foster care
system after having spent at least one year in care.
(2) The board shall convene and consult with an advisory committee to assist with program design and implementation. The committee shall include but not be limited to former foster care youth and their advocates; representatives from the state board for community and technical colleges, and from public and private agencies that assist current and former foster care recipients in their transition to adulthood; and student support specialists from public and private colleges and universities.
(3) To the extent that sufficient funds have been appropriated for this purpose, a student is eligible for assistance under this section if he or she:
(a) Emancipated from foster care on or after January 1, 2007, after having spent at least one year in foster care subsequent to his or her sixteenth birthday;
(b) Is a resident student, as defined in RCW 28B.15.012(2);
(c) Is enrolled with or will enroll on at least a half-time basis with an institution of higher education in Washington state by the age of twenty-one;
(d) Is making satisfactory academic progress toward the completion of a degree or certificate program, if receiving supplemental scholarship assistance;
(e) Has not earned a bachelor's or professional degree; and
(f) Is not pursuing a degree in theology.
(4) A passport to college scholarship under this section:
(a) Shall not exceed resident undergraduate tuition and fees at the highest-priced public institution of higher education in the state; and
(b) Shall not exceed the student's financial need, less a reasonable self-help amount defined by the board, when combined with all other public and private grant, scholarship, and waiver assistance the student receives.
(5) An eligible student may receive a passport to college scholarship under this section for a maximum of five years after the student first enrolls with an institution of higher education or until the student turns age twenty-six, whichever occurs first. If a student turns age twenty-six during an academic year, and would otherwise be eligible for a scholarship under this section, the student shall continue to be eligible for a scholarship for the remainder of the academic year.
(6) The higher education coordinating board, in consultation with and with assistance from the state board for community and technical colleges, shall perform an annual analysis to verify that those institutions of higher education at which students have received a scholarship under this section have awarded the student all available need-based and merit-based grant and scholarship aid for which the student qualifies.
(7) In designing and implementing the passport to college student support program under this section, the board, in consultation with and with assistance from the state board for community and technical colleges, shall ensure that a participating college or university:
(a) Has a viable plan for identifying students eligible for assistance under this section, for tracking and enhancing their academic progress, for addressing their unique needs for assistance during school vacations and academic interims, and for linking them to appropriate sources of assistance in their transition to adulthood;
(b) Receives financial and other incentives for achieving measurable progress in the recruitment, retention, and graduation of eligible students.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 5 Effective operation of the passport to
college promise pilot program requires early and accurate
identification of former foster care youth so that they can be linked
to the financial and other assistance that will help them succeed in
college. To that end:
(1) All institutions of higher education that receive funding for student support services under section 4 of this act shall include on their applications for admission or on their registration materials a question asking whether the applicant has been in foster care in Washington state for at least one year since his or her sixteenth birthday. All other institutions of higher education are strongly encouraged to include such a question. No institution may consider whether an applicant may be eligible for a scholarship or student support services under this chapter when deciding whether the applicant will be granted admission.
(2) The department of social and health services shall devise and implement procedures for efficiently, promptly, and accurately identifying students and applicants who are eligible for services under section 4 of this act, and for sharing that information with the higher education coordinating board and with institutions of higher education. The procedures shall include appropriate safeguards for consent by the applicant or student before disclosure.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 6 (1) To the extent funds are appropriated for
this purpose, the higher education coordinating board, with input from
the state board for community and technical colleges, the foster care
partnership, and institutions of higher education, shall develop and
maintain an internet web site and outreach program to serve as a
comprehensive portal for foster care youth in Washington state to
obtain information regarding higher education including, but not
necessarily limited to:
(a) Academic, social, family, financial, and logistical information important to successful postsecondary educational success;
(b) How and when to obtain and complete college applications;
(c) What college placement tests, if any, are generally required for admission to college and when and how to register for such tests;
(d) How and when to obtain and complete a federal free application for federal student aid (FAFSA); and
(e) Detailed sources of financial aid likely available to eligible former foster care youth, including the financial aid provided by this chapter.
(2) The board shall determine whether to design, build, and operate such program and web site directly or to use, support, and modify existing web sites created by government or nongovernmental entities for a similar purpose.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 7 (1) To the extent funds are appropriated for
this purpose, the department of social and health services, with input
from the state board for community and technical colleges, the higher
education coordinating board, and institutions of higher education,
shall contract with at least one nongovernmental entity through a
request for proposals process to develop, implement, and administer a
program of supplemental educational transition planning for youth in
foster care in Washington state.
(2) The nongovernmental entity or entities chosen by the department shall have demonstrated success in working with foster care youth and assisting foster care youth in successfully making the transition from foster care to independent adulthood.
(3) The selected nongovernmental entity or entities shall provide supplemental educational transition planning to foster care youth in Washington state beginning at age fourteen and then at least every six months thereafter. The supplemental transition planning shall include:
(a) Comprehensive information regarding postsecondary educational opportunities including, but not limited to, sources of financial aid, institutional characteristics and record of support for former foster care youth, transportation, housing, and other logistical considerations;
(b) How and when to apply to postsecondary educational programs;
(c) What precollege tests, if any, the particular foster care youth should take based on his or her postsecondary plans and when to take the tests;
(d) What courses to take to prepare the particular foster care youth to succeed at his or her postsecondary plans;
(e) Social, community, educational, logistical, and other issues that frequently impact college students and their success rates; and
(f) Which web sites, nongovernmental entities, public agencies, and other foster care youth support providers specialize in which services.
(4) The selected nongovernmental entity or entities shall work directly with the school counselors at the foster care youths' high schools to ensure that a consistent and complete transition plan has been prepared for each foster care youth who emancipates out of the foster care system in Washington state.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 8 (1) The higher education coordinating board
shall report to appropriate committees of the legislature by January
15, 2008, on the status of program design and implementation. The
report shall include a discussion of proposed scholarship and student
support service approaches; an estimate of the number of students who
will receive such services; baseline information on the extent to which
former foster care youth who meet the eligibility criteria in section
4 of this act have enrolled and persisted in postsecondary education;
and recommendations for any statutory changes needed to promote
achievement of program objectives.
(2) The state board for community and technical colleges and the higher education coordinating board shall monitor and analyze the extent to which eligible young people are increasing their participation, persistence, and progress in postsecondary education, and shall jointly submit a report on their findings to appropriate committees of the legislature by December 1, 2009, and by December 1, 2011.
(3) The Washington state institute for public policy shall complete an evaluation of the passport to college promise pilot program and shall submit a report to appropriate committees of the legislature by December 1, 2012. The report shall estimate the impact of the program on eligible students' participation and success in postsecondary education, and shall include recommendations for program revision and improvement.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 9 Nothing in this chapter may be construed to:
(1) Guarantee acceptance by, or entrance into, any institution of higher education; or
(2) Limit the participation of youth, in or formerly in, foster care in Washington state in any other program of financial assistance for postsecondary education.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 10 This chapter expires June 30, 2013.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 11 Sections 1 through 10 of this act
constitute a new chapter in Title