Thursday, February 4, 2016
By Evan Smith
State Rep. Gerry Pollet’s bill on community-college affordability had a hearing Wednesday in the House committee on higher education.
The bill, the Washington Promise, would waive two years of tuition for eligible students in associate-degree or certificate programs at Washington community and technical colleges; it also would require a quarter-long course to teach skills for college success.
State Rep. Jessyn Farrell is among co-sponsors.
State Sen. David Frockt and another senator are pushing a companion bill in the Senate.
Pollet, Farrell and Frockt are Democrats representing the 46th Legislative District, including Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and northeast Seattle.
Pollet said at the hearing, “Opening the door to free community college is a proven way to boost high school graduation rates and provide families with a ladder to improved careers and security.”
Other House Democrats noted that nearly 60 percent of students with higher education in Washington attend a two-year college. They say that the Washington Promise measure would help students find good paying jobs, and boost Washington’s economy.
Democrats add that student-loan debt for community college students in Washington has doubled in recent years and that while tuition was reduced significantly for students at four-year schools this year, community and technical college students got a very small reduction.
They say that the average community college student in Washington is over 25 years old, and many community- and technical-college students can’t complete their degrees because of rent or childcare costs.