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Our Strategy: Affordability

Affordability is the most-cited barrier to enrolling and continuing in education beyond high school. While financial barriers extend beyond tuition and fees to include basic needs, the Affordability cluster focuses on the former barriers, while our Student Supports cluster tackles the latter.

Washington has one of the most comprehensive and equitable state policies on affordability in the nation and is inclusive of four main policies:

  • State subsidy and tuition policy for public institutions.
  • State financial aid programs based on income eligibility (need-based).
  • State investment programs to help families save.
  • Credits earned while in high school.

Affordable education for every resident

Washington state policy works to make education affordable for all state residents, regardless of citizenship status, student age, or type of education. Washington’s effort to ensure affordability is not a barrier encompasses all forms of postsecondary programs, from traditional degrees to technical certificates and apprenticeships, and both public and private institutions.

Some state financial aid programs have been designed to increase college and career readiness for specific populations, such as students from low-income households, foster youth, homeless youth, and Native American students. Some financial aid programs also partner with employers to offer work-based learning, targeting markets with high public need, such as teaching and healthcare. 

Looking forward

A key challenge for Washington is to ensure that every state resident is aware of and takes advantage of the financial aid available to them. This includes building awareness among residents of the Washington College Grant, which provides financial aid for students from families making to $112,500 for a household of four, and full tuition for students from families making $73,000 or less for a household of four. As part of this work, WSAC is also exploring how to simplify the process for determining eligibility moving towards automatic eligibility wherever possible.