The Senate on Monday gave final passage to a House bill requested by the HECB that is aimed at reducing administrative costs, providing clearer guidance, and improving equity between program recipients in conditional scholarship and loan repayment programs for health professionals and teachers.
HB 1424, which passed the Senate on a 46-0 vote with three members excused, makes improvements to existing statutes. The bill grants the HECB interest-setting authority for the Health Professional program, which will allow repayment interest rates to be set at the same rates assessed by similar programs. It prescribes a maximum repayment period, aligns grace periods and interest accrual periods, as well as addresses appeals procedures.
The Future Teachers and Health Professional targeted workforce programs recruit and retain high demand professionals for the state of Washington. They have fulfilled needs in medical and teaching shortage areas throughout the state. Under the conditional loan programs, recipients commit to working for a period of time in subject or geographic shortage areas in the state. Failure to meet the service commitment triggers loan repayment provisions.
In addition to making the repayment provisions similar for participating students, the legislation also is intended to simplify administration and reduce costs for the HECB, which administers the programs.
The House passed the bill on a 94-0 vote on Feb. 14. It now goes to the Governor for signature.