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Media Release: Great Admissions Redesign

Washington Student Achievement Council Announced as Winner of The Great Admissions Redesign Challenge

WSAC one of just seven organizations awarded in national competition to transform how students get into college

A woman smiles in reaction to receiving a financial aid package

February 29, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS – Lumina Foundation has named the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) one of seven winners of The Great Admissions Redesign, a competition to revolutionize the admissions process and increase accessibility to higher education for all students.

"Lumina is thrilled by the number of outstanding applicants committed to re-envisioning the college admission process,” said Melanie Heath, strategy director for Lumina. “As a winner of The Great Admissions Redesign, WSAC and its university partners exemplify leadership in streamlining procedures and promoting inclusivity, ensuring all students have equitable opportunities to pursue their educational goals."

After reviewing more than 70 applications in a rigorous selection process and using criteria including simplicity, innovation and a commitment to ensuring fair and just outcomes for Black and Brown students, Lumina is awarding $3.1 million in implementation and planning grants.

WSAC was awarded $150,000 to design early and effective guaranteed financial aid messaging aligned with guaranteed admissions programs. Reducing the uncertainty of affordability and admissions helps students and families feel more prepared to make decisions about education after high school. While the Washington College Grant (WA Grant) is one of the most generous and equitable need-based financial aid programs in the country, many students who might qualify for the grant still need to complete financial aid applications. Most students who are eligible for public assistance programs like SNAP—known in Washington as Basic Food—also qualify for the WA Grant. Given that, WSAC intends to support regional partnerships in designing place-based pilots to increase WA Grant awareness among SNAP-eligible populations. 

This project will engage students, families, school districts and higher education institutions in an innovative process of design thinking to produce effective messaging strategies. This messaging will highlight financial aid eligibility opportunities for families and their students early in high school. 

“Washington faces a game-changing opportunity to expand access to postsecondary education and training,” says Michael Meotti, executive director for WSAC. “We have the nation’s most generous need-based state financial aid program. Our universities have launched a guaranteed admissions program and are partnering with a growing number of secondary schools to support college going among students less likely to continue their education after high school. This foundation enables us to test the messaging power of guaranteed free tuition for the first year of college.”

Additional grant recipients include the Illinois Board of Higher Education, California State University System and Northern Arizona University (all Implementation Grants); as well as the Louisiana Board of Regents, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (all Planning Grants). 

About the Washington Student Achievement Council
The Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) is committed to increasing educational opportunities and attainment in Washington. Supported by a cabinet-level agency, the Council provides strategic planning, oversight, and advocacy to improve educational outcomes for all Washington residents. WSAC proposes goals and explores innovations to meet the evolving needs of students, partners, employers, and the educational community. In recognition of the economic, social, and civic benefits of education beyond high school, WSAC advocates for increased financial support and civic commitment to ensure a thriving Washington. 

About Lumina Foundation
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. We envision higher learning that is easy to navigate, addresses racial injustice, and meets the nation’s talent needs through a broad range of credentials. We are working toward a system that prepares people for informed citizenship and success in a global economy.