Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Several bills impacting financial aid remain alive in Legislature

A $25.4 million State Need Grant (SNG) reduction included in the supplemental budget signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire Friday only affects public institutions and will be replaced by local funds to ensure students do not have awards cancelled or reduced.
The reductions for each institution and the public two-year sector are:
  • University of Washington:  $5.7 million
  • Washington State University:  $3.7 million
  • Eastern Washington University:  $765,000
  • Central Washington  University:  $705,000
  • The Evergreen State College:  $386,000
  • Western Washington University:  $1 million
  • Community and Technical Colleges:  $13 million
The HECB is working with financial aid staffs at the public institutions to determine how the cuts will be implemented.
Additional financial aid bills the Legislature is currently considering include:
  • SHB 1650 – Changing SNG eligibility provisions. The bill would make less-than-half-time students permanently eligible for the SNG program. The bill passed out of the House Education Appropriations & Oversight Committee Monday with an amendment that restored a provision that excluding child support payments from SNG eligibility calculations.
  • SHB 1795 – Enacting the Higher Education Opportunity Act. The bill authorizes baccalaureate institutions to set tuition rates through 2014. It permits the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) to initiate differential tuition and requires four-year institutions to mitigate the effect of tuition increases on middle-income families up to 125 percent of medium family income using a variety of local sources. It requires the HECB to use criteria in addition to “first-come, first-served in awarding SNG. The bill was passed out of the House Higher Education Committee last week and was referred to the Ways & Means Committee.
  • SSB 5462 – Requiring a streamlined financial aid process for community and technical colleges. The bill requires the SBCTC to develop a streamlined financial aid process including standardized forms, deadlines and materials to be implemented January 2012. The bill passed out of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee and was referred to the Ways & Means Committee.

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