The Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) settled on funding recommendations on Monday to try and meet its goal of getting 70% of the state’s residents some form of postsecondary credentials.
The Council decided to recommend $250 million be appropriated over 10 years, or around $25 million per year, to fund a Career and College Promise Community Challenge Fund. The fund would provide competitive, matching grants for community organizations assisting students.
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The state program would provide funding to community organizations to support students as they consider and pursue post-high school education. It’s designed to get to the heart of Washington State’s long-standing graduation problems, said Michael Meotti, the Council’s executive director:
“Why with everything we have going for us in the State of Washington — strong institutions, one of the most generous state financial aid programs in the country, a very strong job market that is constantly seeking a more and more credentialed workforce — why do we have a college-going rate out of high school that is 10 points below the national average?”
Meotti said the way forward was to not have the state pick a set of solutions, but instead have the state look at what’s happening around the state where there’s signs of changing the traditional pattern. He gave the examples of the Seattle Promise or Chehalis Student Achievement Initiative programs, which are community-based partnerships.
According to WSAC, 50.6% of Washingtonians have an associate degree or higher. When trade schools and other postsecondary credentials are factored in, that jumps to 62% still lower than the state’s goal.
Men in the state have lower levels of education than women, with just under 32% of men having a high school diploma or less, compared to 24.6% of women.
Racial disparities are also at play. According to WSAC data, three-quarters of Asian adults and more than half of white adults in the state have at least an associate degree, compared to just one in five American Indian adults, and one in four Hispanic adults.
The data also varies by county, as seen in the picture below taken from a 2020 WSAC report.
Income level is also a factor
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