Rep. Pollet and Sen Frockt propose the Washington Promise free community college tuition program

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-46) and Sen. David Frockt (D-46) have introduced the Washington Promise, which would assure qualifying high school students that they will be able to go to community college.

Promise programs are a proven way to increase high school graduation rates. The bill will initially provide one year of guaranteed tuition at community and technical colleges for lower income Washington residents, and then gradually expand free community college access.

“Opening the door to our state’s community colleges with a year of free tuition for recent low income grads puts the dream of higher education in reach,” said Pollet, the bill’s prime sponsor in the House. 
“Free access to community college is a proven way to increase high school graduation rates and to enable people to move up in their careers to support their families.”

While funding K-12 remains the legislature’s top focus for 2017, lawmakers must continue their work to ensure students have affordable options once graduation arrives.

“The Washington Promise is about giving our people the tools they need to fulfill their own potential, said Frockt, author of a Senate companion bill and a member of the Senate Higher Education Committee. 
“Making community or technical college more accessible will bridge the gap between need and skill in the workforce, build on already successful programs such as Washington’s College Bound Scholarship, and create attainable rungs in the ladder of upward mobility for every Washingtonian.”

South Seattle College President Gary Oertli said “SSC has been offering one year of tuition-free college to high school graduates since 2008 through the 13th Year Promise Scholarship, and to know that support could expand across our state with this legislation is truly exciting.”

“The Washington Promise program proposed by Senator Frockt and Representative Pollet will scale up a proven best practice state wide, thus benefiting thousands of students," said Shouan Pan, Chancellor, Seattle Colleges.

College Promise programs have been adopted in cities like Los Angeles and Philadelphia, and states like Oregon and Tennessee.

The measure will have a hearing in the House Higher Education Committee Wednesday, February 8 at 1:30.


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