House of Representatives
Office of Program Research
College & Workforce Development Committee
This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.
Brief Description: Establishing a statewide free college program by changing the state need grant to the Washington college promise scholarship.
Sponsors: Representatives Hansen, Leavitt, Gregerson, Orwall, Mead, Bergquist, Sells, Stanford, Stonier, Dolan, Valdez, Goodman, Springer, Macri, Jinkins, Pollet and Wylie; by request of Office of the Governor.
Brief Summary of Bill
Hearing Date: 1/22/19
Staff: Megan Mulvihill (786-7304).
The State Need Grant.
The State Need Grant (SNG) is the state's largest financial aid program administered by the Student Achievement Council (Council). To be eligible for the program, a student needs:
to be a Washington state resident;
have a household income of less than 70 percent of the state's median family income (MFI);
attend an eligible institution of higher education and maintain satisfactory academic progress;
enroll with a minimum of three credits as an undergraduate student;
be pursing a first bachelor's degree, a certificate, or a first associate degree in any field excluding theology; and
not owe repayment to another student aid program.
The SNG award amount varies based on the institution of higher education the student attends and the student's family income. A student with a family income 50 percent or less of the state's MFI will receive the maximum award amount, whereas a student who has a family income of 70 percent of MFI is eligible to receive 50 percent of the maximum award amount. In addition to income, the SNG award amount varies based on the type of institution a student chooses to attend. The award is not full tuition and fees, but is based on a historical percentage calculation for each institution. For example, for the 2018-19 academic year, a SNG student receiving a full award who attends the University of Washington receives $9,745. A SNG student who receives the full award amount and attends a public community or technical college receives $3,694. A SNG student may receive an award for up to five years or 125 percent of their program's length.
For 2018, 68,205 students received a SNG award, and over 22,600 were eligible, but did not receive an award due to funding limits.
The Caseload Forecast Council.
The Caseload Forecast Council (CFC) oversees the preparation and approval of the official state caseload forecasts. The CFC estimates the number of persons expected to meet entitlement requirements and require the service of certain programs or systems, such as public assistance programs, the common school and charter school systems, foster care, and the College Bound Scholarship program.
Summary of Bill:
Washington College Promise Scholarship Program.
The SNG program is changed to the Washington College Promise Scholarship (Promise Scholarship) program. The Office of Student Financial Assistance (Office) within the Council is to administer the Promise Scholarship program and must award scholarships to all eligible students beginning in academic year 2021-22.
Entitlement. The Legislature is required to appropriate funding for the Promise Scholarship program, and allocations must be made on the basis of estimated eligible participants enrolled in institutions and apprenticeship programs. All eligible students are entitled to a Promise Scholarship.
Eligibility. A student is eligible for the Promise Scholarship if they meet the following requirements:
has a family income at or below 70 percent of the state median family income (MFI), adjusted for family size;
is enrolled, or accepted for enrollment, for at least three quarter credits or equivalent semester credits at an either an institution that has been authorized to participate in state financial aid programs or in a registered apprenticeship program; and
is a resident student.
Award Amounts. The maximum Promise Scholarship award is based on the institution the student attends as follows:
For public two- or four-year institutions, the award is tuition and estimated fees for fifteen quarter credits or the equivalent;
For private four-year institutions, the award is the lesser of either the award for a public four-year institution or the institution's tuition for fifteen quarter credits or equivalent;
For private two-year institutions, the award is the lesser of either the award for a public community or technical college or the institution's tuition for fifteen quarter credits or equivalent; and
For apprenticeship programs, the award is tuition and fees, as determined by the Office, in addition to required program supplies and equipment.
Eligible students with family incomes at or below 50 percent state MFI must receive a maximum Promise Scholarship award. Students with family incomes between 51 percent and 70 percent MFI receive a prorated award as follows:
Median Family Income Range
Percentage of Maximum Award
Part-time Students. An eligible student enrolled part-time must receive a pro-rated scholarship. In addition, a part-time pre-college student enrolled in three to six credit-bearing quarter credits, or the equivalent semester credits, may receive a Promise Scholarship award for up to one year before beginning a degree or certificate program.
Students can receive the Promise Scholarship for five years or 125 percent of the length of the program in which the student is enrolled. Students need to maintain satisfactory academic progress in order to remain eligible for the Promise Scholarship.
The CFC must estimate the anticipated caseload of the Promise Scholarship program.
"Needy student" or "needy" is amended to "student who demonstrates financial need" or "demonstrates financial need," and "state need grant" is changed to "Washington college promise scholarship program" throughout the higher education statutes.
The existing Washington Promise Scholarship program is repealed.
Fiscal Note: Requested on January 18, 2019.
Effective Date: The bill contains multiple effective dates.