The College Bound Scholarship Program (CBS) was established in 2007 to provide guaranteed four-year tuition to students from low-income families. The first CBS awards were granted to the graduating high school class of 2012. Eligible students for the CBS include those who:
Beginning in the seventh-grade, eligible students are notified of their eligibility and the requirements for award of the scholarship. To be eligible to receive the CBS, a student must sign a pledge during the seventh- or eighth-grade that includes a commitment to graduate from high school with at least a C average and no felony convictions. The pledge must be witnessed by a parent or guardian and forwarded to the Office of Student Financial Assistance within the Washington Student Achievement Council. If the student is a dependent, the student is automatically enrolled without any necessary action by the student or the student's family.
To receive the CBS, the student must graduate with at least a C average from a public high school, approved private high school, or have received home-based instruction. The student cannot have a felony conviction and must be a resident student. Upon graduation, the student's family income will be assessed, and if it does not exceed 65 percent of the state median family income (MFI), the student will receive a scholarship.
CBS recipients that attend public two-year or four-year higher education institutions receive an award to cover the cost of tuition and fees, minus any state-funded grant, scholarship, or waiver assistance, plus $500 for books and materials. The student must maintain satisfactory academic progress and may not receive the scholarship for more than four full-time years.
The bill as referred to committee not considered.
The requirement that a student sign a pledge in order to be eligible for the CBS is eliminated. The Legislature intends to create a statutory contractual right for students who fulfill the CBS requirements. A student has a vested right to the award of a CBS if they:
The office of financial assistance must develop a process for auto-enrolling and notifying all eligible students of the scholarship and its requirements. The office must mail to all eligible students in grades seven through nine the notification of enrollment and the program requirements.
The requirements in this act are applied retroactively to students beginning with the 2019-20 school year.
PRO: My kids are recipients of the CBS and I want to see programs like this accessible to more students. If we remove the pledge we can increase access for 10,000 more students each year. We can help more students see college is possible. But, there is a tradeoff with removing criteria for the award and adding auto-enrollment. If we do not provide some type of criteria it is harder to hold the state accountable for funding this program in the future. I want to find the strongest language possible to increase access but be sure this promise remains for students. The bill addresses a serious problem that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Research shows the program boosts college completion for those who get it but thousands of students each year do not get the award because of a form. Our focus is on removing educational barriers and this program is one of our tools. We would like to be able to focus our efforts on supporting these students rather than chasing forms. The CBS offers more than a financial award, it offers hope. For many of our students obtaining the signature on this form represents a massive barrier. Many of our kids who have faced systemic inequities are also the students who struggle most to get the signature.
OTHER: We are strongly in favor of expanding access to the CBS. Foster youth are automatically eligible. We urge you to remove the requirement of a C average as many students in foster care struggle academically and this presents a barrier. CBS remains one of these students only pathways. Forty percent of the young people in our juvenile justice system are in foster care. We encourage you to remove the prohibition on felony convictions as it presents one more barrier for our youth. Through my personal experience signing students up for this program I have spent countless hours chasing forms. We do not believe it makes sense to withhold education dollars for students who have had interactions with the criminal justice system. We know education is a key tool is preventing recidivism.