Four major bills impacting student access and success were approved in 2011.
E2SHB 1795 - Tuition, Funding, Accountability
This bill allows the state’s public, four-year colleges and universities tuition-setting authority with some limits for the next eight years. It requires new, more rigorous accountability measures enforced through bi-annual performance plans with OFM, directs the Legislature to come up with a new, performance-based method of funding higher education in 2012, and requires institutions to increase total annual bachelor’s degree production 6,000 by 2018.
E2SSB 5182 - Higher education oversight
This bill eliminates the HECB effective July 1, 2012 and divides it into an Office of Student Financial Assistance, with a director appointed by the Governor, and a Council for Higher Education. A Governor-appointed steering committee is established to study and make recommendations by December 2011on the membership of the Council for Higher Education and the role and scope of its duties. The HECB is authorized to assist the steering committee in carrying out its work. The new Office of Student Financial Assistance will have responsibility for all financial aid programs now administered by the HECB and for the GET program.
ESSB 5749 - GET Assessment
In light of the new tuition-setting authority granted in E2SHB 1795, the GET bill requires the program’s governing body to work with the State Actuary to assess whether changes are needed for GET units purchased on or after September 1, 2011. A report during the legislative session from the State Actuary affirmed the financial solvency of the existing GET program. The additional assessment of GET unit pricing, payout value, and enrollment schedule will help ensure the continued soundness of the program in the face of tuition changes resulting from enactment of E2SHB 1795.
ESHB 2088 – Opportunity Scholarship
This bill establishes two new public/private scholarship accounts for low- and middle-income students enrolled in high employer demand studies and other bachelor's degree programs in Washington. A third public/private fund supports institutional proposals that increase bachelor’s degree production in high-demand fields.