Legislation signed into law by the governor on May 14 removes the College Bound pledge requirement for students, an administrative hurdle that has prevented many students from accessing the scholarship or even knowing of its availability.
Senate Bill 5321, sponsored by Sen. T’wina Nobles (D-Fircrest), had unanimous support.
The new law expands the eligibility requirement criteria to include ninth grade students.
“The College Bound Scholarship is a game changer and a life changer. I want this opportunity to be available to as many students and households as possible,” said Nobles. “That’s why we’ve strategically removed barriers to allow more students the opportunity to take advantage of this incredible college funding resource.”
Until now, students have had to sign a pledge that includes a commitment to graduate from high school with at least a C average and no felony convictions to be eligible to receive the scholarship. The pledge must be witnessed by a parent or guardian and forwarded to the Office of Student Financial Assistance within the Washington Student Achievement Council. Having the pledge signed and returned is a significant barrier for many students, including students experiencing the foster care system or unaccompanied homelessness. By removing the pledge requirement, SB 5321 gives about 10,000 more students access to the College Bound Scholarship.
“For many of our students, obtaining the signature on this form represents an unnecessary barrier,” said Nobles. “Many of our students who have faced systemic inequities are also the students who are disproportionately and negatively impacted by the signature requirement.”