Bill 5568 is up for debate in the Washington State Senate, which will freeze tuition for in-state students for two years. If the bill passes, the price for tuition in technical, two-year and four-year schools will be held the same until the 2018–2019 school year.
Senate Bill 5568 will affect in-state undergraduate students at four-year universities, technical schools and two-year schools. The tuition freeze would not affect tuition prices for graduate students or out-of-state students. Senator Marko Liias, a Democratic member of the Washington State Senate representing the 21st legislative district, explained that the reason why the tuition freeze will only be applicable to in-state students is because it should assist “students who grew up here and families who pay taxes here.” Senator Liias did point out that it shouldn’t deter out of state students because “we do welcome any student into our institution.”
UW Tacoma student Dilan Mohammed, who does not qualify for the Student Need Grant, expressed that, “I think the idea of freezing the price of tuition for in-state students for two years is a good step to help make school more affordable for students.” She also said that “a majority of the students who go here are middle class and it would allow students who go here to work less and focus more on school and less on having to work to go to school.”
A plethora of bills surrounding higher education are currently up for discussion. Senator Liias said that the State Need Grant is also being discussed by his colleagues.
Senate Bill 5476, expanding State Need Grant eligibility, is another bill up for discussion. This bill will alter the requirements to qualify for the State Need Grant. Currently, families must earn an income of less than 70 percent of the Washington state median household income to qualify for the grant. This bill states that the grant would allow families to earn up to 85 percent to qualify. This financial aid can be used at universities in Washington state.
Senator Liias said “my colleagues are focused on trying to fully fund” the State Need Grant. He also explained how middle class families may also be eligible for some assistance.
Both of the Senate bills up for discussion are those that can impact current and future college students. Senate Bill 5568 and Senate Bill 5476 have been introduced to the senate and are both in committee.