The legislature adjourned on time, April 28, with historic outcomes for higher education. One of the key outcomes is the passage of the Workforce Education Investment Act (HB 2158), which creates a dedicated revenue source for higher education totaling $373.8 M for the 2019-21 biennium. The act includes a number of higher education investments and makes a historic change to the State Need Grant program, replacing it with the Washington College Grant program with dedicated funding for all eligible students beginning in FY21. In addition, the program expands need-based financial aid to middle class families, increasing the eligibility threshold from 70% MFI to 100% MFI beginning in FY21.
Other features of the new Washington College Grant program include:
- An additional 6,000 students will be served in FY20 (one-third of the backlog of student who are eligible but unserved due to funding limitations in previous years), and the waitlist is eliminated with guaranteed funding in FY21.
- Expands to cover apprenticeship programs beginning in FY20.
- Maximum award is increased to full tuition and fees at public institutions.
After some down-to-the-wire negotiating, Eastern Washington University was able to secure several legislative priorities:
- Compensation and Central Services Support ($1.8M): Funds the difference between what EWU can raise in tuition revenue and the cost of the negotiated compensation increases.
- Science Building Renovation Project ($7.9M): This landmark investment funds the first phase of a two phase major renovation to the existing Science Building adjacent to the new Multi-Disciplinary Science Building currently under construction.
- Lucy Covington Archives ($250K): Funds the gathering and archiving of records and artifacts related to preserving the accomplishments of Colville tribal leader, Lucy Covington.
- Computer Engineering Degree ($2.6M): Establishes a Computer Engineering program at EWU to increase the number of STEM degrees awarded in growing field.
Other session highlights include:
- Career Connected Learning ($12.7 M): Establishes a cross-agency work group, a grant program to support regional CCL networks and program intermediaries, and school district funding to support student participation in career launch programs.
- Guided Pathways support ($35.1 M): Supporting advising, student support, and rethinking pathways to a credential for students in the Community and Technical College system.
- Student Loan Refinancing Program ($2.2 M): Washington Student Achievement Council to contract with up to five private financial institutions to refinance student loans by providing an interest rate buy-down incentive or loan loss reserve coverage.
- Conditional Scholarships for Educators ($3.6 M): Funding for a variety of conditional loan scholarships supporting future and current teachers (see HB 1139).
- Dual Enrollment Scholarship Pilot ($1.6 M): Pilot program to cover costs of Running Start and College in the High School for low-income students (see HB 1973).