Improving access to higher education – an intern’s perspective

Tiffany Picotte, Zone 13 legislative council member, PSE intern, and Eastern Washington University employee, spent last week in Olympia.  During her week she focused on higher education issues like the issue below.  Here’s her report:

Having the opportunity to sit in on House and Senate committee meetings was such a treat! Working in higher education, I made it a priority to attend the House Committee on Higher Education and Senate Committee on Higher Education & Workforce Development.

One bill heard on 20-February in the Senate Committee peaked my interest, HB1488, (current version E3SHB 1488) which concerns expanding higher education opportunities for certain students.  This bill has four main objectives:

(1) Allow students who meet the 1079 residency criteria to be eligible for the College Bound Scholarship program. The 1079 standard emerged out of the Legislature passing HB 1079 in 2003, which allows eligible undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at state universities and colleges if they meet.

(2) Provide that students who have received Opportunity Scholarships may renew their scholarships by filing the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA).

(3) Expand the criteria of what is not a nonresident student to include individuals with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status or with certain authorizations from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), primarily U and T nonimmigrant status, or those in deferred action status.

(4) Appropriate $500,000 from the State General Fund in fiscal year 2019 to fund the State Need Grant.

I was able to follow the bill throughout the week, observing the public hearing on HB1488 in the Senate Committee on Tuesday and the executive session on Thursday, where executive action was taken to pass the bill out of Senate Committee, at which point it was referred to the Rules Committee for a second reading on Friday.  Wow, all in one week!

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