WSA Legislative Agenda 2019

Full and Accelerated Funding for the State Need Grant

With an investment of $18 million during the 2018 session, Washington State moved closer to fully funding the SNG last year and we applaud those efforts. The WSA aims to ensure the following: a) full funding happens by or before 2021 and aid the ~21,000 students who are left unfunded b) the SNG has secure funding for the SNG by making the program an entitlement c) lastly, we are pushing for eligibility for the SNG to expand to from 70% of the median family income to 100% MFI.  

College Without Debt

Washington State is home to 800,000 student loan borrowers who collectively owe $24 billion dollars in student loan debt. Funding levels for public universities in Washington have not returned to pre-recession levels. We urge the legislature to develop a long-term funding plan that covers the entire the cost of attendance for undergraduate and graduate students (tuition, housing, textbooks, and living expenses). Our efforts aim to leave students with zero student loan debt once they graduate college. 11 states offer some form of free college, our goal is for WA to have the most robust program in the nation.

Undocumented Student Loan

With recent threats to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, we subsequently see the presence and retention of our undocumented students under attack. With no clear indication from the federal government that DACA students will be protected, the WSA is advocating for increased protections and financial aid programs for our undocumented student population here in Washington State. The WSA is asking the state legislature to create a state-funded loan program specifically for undocumented students to access which would create a reliable way for students to pay for higher education expenses.

Eliminate Working Requirement for Working Connections Child Care

Child care can often exceed the cost of tuition for some student parents. 25% of the student body in Washington are working parents and deserve access and increased affordability for child care services. Currently, eligibility for the Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) subsidies requires that a student works at least 20 hours a week. On-campus jobs that are most accessible to students and accommodate class schedules are limited to only 19.5 hours per week, which automatically exclude student parents from eligibility for these benefits. We believe that students shouldn’t be forced to work a minimum amount of hours while going to school and taking care of a family. The WSA advocates for the work requirement for the WCCC program to be removed and allow students to access this subsidy.​

2018 WSA Legislative Victories

The 2018 legislative session was incredibly successful for students in Washington State. Student advocacy from across the state resulted in eleven pieces of legislation that made their way to the Governor Jay Inslee's desk. Students and allies were also able to secure millions of dollars in new funding for the Washington State Need Grant. Below is a brief description, and bill reports linked, for each legislative win of the 2018 legislative session:

Commitment to Fully Fund the WA State Need Grant (SNG)

Washington State needs a stable funding plan for higher education, coupled with a robust financial aid program to support our low-income students. This year, the WSA joined the College Promise Coalition to push for a fully funded SNG and serve the 21,000 underserved student population. The state legislature has committed to fully funding the SNG by 2021. Over 90,000 students will benefit from this state financial aid.

 

WA Student Loan Bill of Rights

SB 6029: Sponsor Marko Liias 

With over 760,000+ Washingtonians student loan borrowers and $24 billion in student loan debt, borrowers deserve to be protected from predatory loan practices. SB 6029 ensures that loan servicers are licensed and certified by the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). Further, a student advocate housed under the Washington Student Achievement Council is tasked with receiving and reviewing complaints from borrowers. 

HB 2595 - Rep. Zach Hudgins Automatic Voter Registration 

Citizens who are elibilge to register to vote will have to opportunity to register when they iinteract with state agencies. AVR will look to expand the number of people on the voter registration rolls. 

HB 1488 - Rep. Drew Hansen    Dream Act 2.0

HB 1488 ensures that undocumented students who have resided in Washington for three years and graduate from a WA high school remain eligible for state financial aid. It also expands financial aid to students with U & T visas.

HB 1433 - Rep Melanie Stambaugh                      Decoupling S&A Fees

Whenever tuition increased or decreased, Service and Activty fees were mandated by law to also increase or decrease. HB 1433 permanently decouples S&A fees and gives students on campus more autonomy over their students fees. The legislature decided to cap S&A fees increases at 4% a year.

HB 1561 - Rep. Noelle Frame      Open Educational Resources

Over 4 years a student will can pay around $3,600 or more for just textbooks. This bill secures $137,000 funding for grants for professors to develop free online textbooks for their course and it also funds a state coordinator to assist campus in the development of OER.

SB 6021 - Sen. Patty Kuderer    Same Day Voter Registration

Students can have only ten school days to regsiter students to vote. This bill allows citizens to register to vote up until the night of an election! Great victory to get more youth registered to vote. Part of the WA Voting Justice Coaltion priorties!

SB 1169 - Senator Tina Orwall Student Opportuntiy Relief & Assistance (S.O.A.R)

Our students can be subject to harsh forms of repayment if they fall into default on their student loans. This bill limits the level of garnishment from wages to pay for loans. It also disallows the suspension of professional liceneses for students in default.

HB 1513 - Rep. Steve Bergquist Pre-registration for 16/17 yr old

Youth are consistently on the move and need to be actively targeted to register to vote. This bill allows 16 and 17 year olds who are eligible to reigster to vote so that they are added to to voter rolls when they turn 18. 

HB 2367 - Rep. Kristine Reeves Child Care Taskforce

Students and employees desrve access to child care. However, due to varying rules and prices child care can be outreach for many. This task force will examine the effects of child care affordability and accessibility on the workforce and on businesses.

HB 6514 - Rep. Sharon Brown  Mental Health Resources

Students need access to preventative and emergency mental health services. This bill establishes a statewide mental health resource center for higher education institutions to utilize. It also establishes a grant program for universities to increase their mental health services. 

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Executive Director - Guillermo Rogel Jr. | ed@wastudents.org