Complete your daily
Safe Start Health Check screening.
Written by Lincoln Vander Veen
November 5, 2020
The Independent Colleges of Washington (ICW) will focus its state legislative advocacy on making sure the Washington College Grant (WCG) is fully funded and improved, supporting the State Work Study program, and leveraging capacity at colleges and universities like Seattle U. In the midst of these difficult economic times, the legislature may look for savings in vital higher education programs – ICW is working to help the legislature resist those cuts.
The Newsroom wrote about the WCG in September and its promising beginnings: 407 Seattle U students in winter quarter 2019 received WCG funding but that jumped to 678 students in fall quarter 2020 after the legislature created a dedicated funding source for it. The WCG isn’t perfect, though, and ICW is advocating for an “equity fix” that would cost the state approximately $4 million, just one percent of the total funding for the WCG. ICW breaks down the issue and proposes its “equity fix” on its website.
The State Work Study program in Washington state was implemented in 1974. Since that time it has helped undergraduate and graduate students earn money to avoid student loan debt while gaining vital skills for their future careers. In its latest budget the state legislature voted to allocate nearly $8 million a year for SWS. In the 2018-2019 academic year – the most recent year statewide data is available – 4,000 students earned over $12 million in wages. Closer to home, this academic year Seattle U has 510 students who will earn SWS wages. In the previous academic year, Seattle U students earned over $170,000. ICW sees great value in the SWS program and will be urging the legislature to do even more to incentivize students to work and earn via the program.
Finally, private nonprofit colleges and universities – like Seattle U – can play a role in expanding higher education opportunities in Washington and ICW is working to make sure the legislature and higher education advocates know that. The facts and data are clear: the jobs of the future in Washington will require some type of post-secondary credential, like a bachelors or masters degree. Unfortunately, our state has a critical need for increased higher education capacity (check out the Washington Roundtable’s Path to 70 to learn more). Seattle U is well-positioned to help create that capacity. For instance, the Center for Science and Innovation will greatly expand the capacity of SUs College of Science and Engineering at a time when our region has cemented itself as the second-most important technology hub in the country. ICW is making it a priority to educate the legislature about its members desire and ability to do more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating consequences on our economy but ICW is taking the lead in making sure the legislature doesn’t cut its support of vital higher education programs, like the WCG and SWS. Institutions of higher education will help lead our state and nation out of its present economic circumstances.
Back to top