New Grant Expands Financial Aid

A new Washington College Grant will allow more students access to financial aid starting in 2020.

The new Washington College Grant is a grant of $190 million in financial aid, which will result in higher compensation for teachers and the expansion of financial aid for lower and middle-income college students, according to an email sent by Bellevue College president Jerry Weber.

The email outlined the changes that would be made to policies due to the new grant. Changes being made include a general salary increase for faculty and some technical college employees, an expansion of general eligibility for students hoping to access financial aid, and a reduction of the waitlist by one-third in 2019-20, leading to an eventual elimination of the waitlist by 2020-2021, according to Weber.

Melanie Ruiz, director of the Bellevue College financial aid department, commented on the policy changes in an interview, stating that the grant will be a guarantee for students below median income, which is currently $91,766 for a family of four.

 “In the past, the Washington State Need Grant has not been fully funded by the state and funds were offered first come, first serve,” stated Ruiz. “This meant that not all eligible students received the funding they could have because money ran out.  The new state budget will ensure that all eligible students receive funding in upcoming academic years.”

When asked about the impact this policy change will have on students, Ruiz answered “College affordability is critical to our students’ retention and success.  This is a huge win for needy students who rely on financial assistance to pay for college.   It may also help students either reduce or eliminate their student loan borrowing.”

When inquired about the impact this may have on current college students, Ruiz stated “The state’s commitment to fully fund the Washington College Grant program means eligible students will receive the funding they are entitled to even if they apply later in the academic year.”

The Washington College Grant will replace the State Need Grant, which has long been one of the nations main financial aid programs. However, it ran out of money every year. 92,000 students received financial aid this year, leaving 18,000 qualified students without any, according to the Seattle Times.

Photo by Eliot Gentiluomo