The Path to 70%
Support Washington Students
The Path to 70%
Enrollment Crisis Continues
The Path to 70%
Free Access to Earn College Credit
The Path to 70%
Support Students
The Path to 70%
Achieve 100% financial aid form completion
The Path to 70%
Expand Pathways

Washington students have big dreams for their futures

A college education is about more than just me and my needs. I want a college degree so that I can support my future family and provide them with experiences / opportunities my parents could never give me.

Emilee, second-year Gonzaga University student and first in her family to attend college

Washington students aspire to careers in many fields — agriculture, engineering, health care, technology, and much more. Many seek skills that will enable them to best serve their communities. Others aspire to be the first in their family to attend college. Students rely on financial aid, scholarships, and other vital supports to get and stay on a path to a credential.

Our goal remains the same: that 70% of Washington students will earn a credential by the high school class of 2030. But many industries are facing critical workforce shortages, and even before the pandemic, post-high school education enrollment and credential attainment rates had flattened. As Washington works to recover and rebuild from the pandemic, investing in students and our future workforce is essential.

The enrollment crisis continues

So many people in my nursing program couldn’t go to school without financial aid

Quincey Christenson studies nursing at Heritage University. When she was 12, Quincey spent a lot of time in the hospital — time that inspired her to become a nurse. Click play to hear Quincey’s story.

Most jobs in Washington state, even before the pandemic, were filled by workers who earned some form of postsecondary credential — such as a degree, certificate, or apprenticeship. Credentials also protect Washingtonians from changes in the economy.

Despite the economic necessity of earning a credential beyond high school, far too few Washington students are completing postsecondary education and training. Fall 2023 enrollment at Washington’s public two- and four-year institutions is down by more than 50,000 students compared to fall 2019.

A graph showing Washington's postsecondary enrollment trends.

Source: Washington Roundtable

Additionally, the estimated credential attainment rate for the high school class of 2021 is 40%—three percentage points lower than the class of 2019. Our Black, Hispanic and Latinx, and Native American students are projected to earn credentials at even lower rates.

A chart showing racial disparities in post-high school credential attainment.

Washington State high school class of 2021 projected credential attainment rate by age 26 (estimated), disaggregated by race, income, and gender.

Young Washingtonians and displaced workers alike will need postsecondary education and credentials to meet the demands of today’s world and secure a better tomorrow.

Provide free access for students to earn college credit in high school

When it’s at the high school, it’s a lot more accessible for people.

Emma, a Bridgeport High School senior, has always had wanted to go to college and study nursing. Earning college credit during HS via College in the High School is making it easier

Enabling students to earn college credit while in high school is a proven strategy to increase enrollment and persistence in postsecondary education. Research indicates that students who earn college credit during their high school experience are more likely to graduate high school, persist into a second year of post-high school education and complete a bachelor’s degree within four years.

In 2023, the state legislature approved tuition-free College in the High School classes, enabling many more Washington students to complete college credit while in high school. Building on this momentum to continue to expand access to dual credit programs in public and private, not-for-profit colleges and universities will launch more students toward success in post-high school education and careers.

Receiving a grant helps me stress less and spend more time working on my education. I currently still work and balancing work to pay off loans and education to advance towards my career goals can be challenging.

Micah, first-year Biology (Pre-Health) student at Gonzaga University

[Education is] important to me because I wanted to be the first in my family to finally be able to have the chance in going to college and learn and achieve my goals. Also, I wanted to show an example to my younger siblings that anything is possible for you, you just have to put the time and energy into it.

Anjelique, first-year nursing student at Big Bend Community College and the first in her family to attend college

Without the Washington College Grant, I would not have even considered pursuing postsecondary education. The Washington College Grant has removed my financial barriers allowing me to pursue my goals and the confidence to know that I can make a bigger impact in my community.

Matthew, second-year biology student at Edmonds Community College and first in his family to attend college

Lillian, first-year biology and German student at Pacific Lutheran University

Support far more students on the path to credential attainment

Far too many young people have not enrolled in post-high school education or training as planned, and progress toward their career goals has stalled. Also, a record number of Americans are resigning from their jobs, driven by labor market changes and accelerated by the pandemic. Many career switchers are realizing that they need additional education and training to land a new job.

Progress on Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) educational attainment goals and key measures

Progress on Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) educational attainment goals and key measures

We must take action now to ensure Washingtonians have the opportunities to earn a credential and succeed in the workforce.

Amanda, fourth-year Evergreen State College student and first in her family to attend college

Achieve 100% financial aid form completion

Having financial aid sets me up for the future.

Colton Reynolds studies aviation at Big Bend Community College with support from financial aid: “Financial aid is a life-saver.” Click play to hear Colton’s story.

Education or training after high school is important to me because both can support my future endeavor, give me a good paying job, and most especially, get my family out of poverty.

Kit, second-year nursing student at Bates Technical College

Washington has a nation-leading financial aid initiative, the Washington College Grant. But too many students can’t access this financial aid because of barriers like financial aid application completion challenges. Our state currently lags way behind many others in supporting students to complete the application:

The #FormYourFuture FAFSA Tracker is an interactive data dashboard that tracks and ranks states’ progress toward 100% of their high school seniors completing the FAFSA

Financial aid is a game changer for many students, so the legislature and state agencies should work to provide assistance to students and families on FAFSA/WASFA completion to open the door to the Washington College Grant and Pell Grants.

Jesus, first-year Grays Harbor College student and first in his family to attend college

Expand High-Demand Pathways

I was interested in the medical field but unsure how to get a foot in the door. My aunt was working for the Edmonds School District and told me about Career Connect Washington. When I went to an informational meeting for their Career Launch apprenticeship, it seemed like the perfect way for me to learn more about working as a medical assistant while earning money.

Leela Cohen completed an apprenticeship program with Kaiser Permanente in Bothell

Career connected learning gives students the chance to gain real-world skills and explore careers, launching more young people toward success in apprenticeships, college and other post-high school education and careers.

Career Connect Washington supports colleges, universities, and employers in designing work-based learning pathways that allow students to earn while they learn and achieve a credential.

Our state must grow capacity in workforce training and high-demand fields, including health care and STEM. The need for degrees and credentials in these areas continues to grow.

Girls at picnic bench from above by Alexis Brown on Unsplash
Young woman and man at computer station by heylagostechie on Unsplash
Student in book stacks by bantersnaps on Unsplash
Technician using a nano-spectralizer by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Hands gesturing in class by Headway on Unsplash
Student pipetting DNA samples into a tube by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Silhouette of student by Hannah Wei on Unsplash

College Promise Coalition

The College Promise Coalition is a broad-based group advocating for increased higher education access and opportunity for Washington students.

© 2024 | Paid for by College Promise Coalition

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