Office of Government Relations
These accomplishments were guided by our 2021 Legislative Agenda which can be found HERE.
Increased State Funding for Student Financial Aid
- HB 1659 – Expanding the Washington College Grant
- We secured $137 million dollars in additional student financial aid over the next four years. This expansion will put $500 extra dollars per year directly in the pockets of every WCG recipient (about 25% of students at each university,) AND expands eligibility from 55% of the median family income to 60% of MFI, meaning thousands more students will go to college tuition and fee free.
- HB 1736 – Low Interest Student Loans
- This bill gives $150 million dollars towards a low interest student loan program, which will focus on giving low-income student access to additional subsidized loans (1% interest.) Additionally, students who are undocumented and graduate students will be eligible to receive funding.
Improve Students’ Access to Education
- HB 1835/SB 5789 – FAFSA Completion
- Washington state has one of the lowest FAFSA completion rates in the country, meaning that thousands of our students leave millions of dollars in federal student aid unclaimed each year. These bills invest a cumulative $9.2 million dollars into on-campus (K-12) FAFSA navigators, advertising for financial aid programs, and the creation of a ‘innovation challenge grant fund,’ which will give money to local community groups to increase awareness of financial aid and provide technical support to students across the state.
Addressing Student Safety
- HB 1751 – Sam’s Law
- In recent year, hazing has become a major problem and safety concern for Washington’s students. This bill takes action to prevent hazing through proper education and accountability measures. A special shout out to our colleagues at WSU Pullman for helping to champion this important legislation.
Addressing Student Basic Needs
- Budget Proviso Expanding the Homeless and Foster Youth Program
- Through a budget proviso, we expanded the ‘Homeless and Foster Youth Pilot Program,’ to every community and technical college and every public four-year university. This program was created by the WSA in 2019 and provides students experiencing homelessness and former foster youth with wrap around service.
Increased Students’ Access to Healthcare
- Health Insurance/Access Study and Pilot Program
- For far too long, campus administrators have made information about students access to primary health care, behavioral health care, and health insurance inaccessible. This year, we secured $120,000 in the form of a budget proviso, which directs several state agencies and university administrators to collect comprehensive data on students access to health care and insurance (including behavioral health.) Additionally, this will fund two ‘student health insurance assisters.’ These assisters will be a part of a pilot program to help educate and enroll students in low-cost/free health insurance. Both the study and pilot program will give future student advocates the information necessary to make significant advancements in student health and wellbeing.
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