The Path to 70%
Support Washington Students
The Path to 70%
Credentials Are Essential
The Path to 70%
Protect Access
The Path to 70%
Strengthen Economic Recovery
The Path to 70%
Protect Progress Made
The Path to 70%
Invest in Success
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

Some Washington students aspire to careers in engineering and health care. Others seek skills that will enable them to best serve their communities. Still others aspire to be the first in their family to attend college. Our state’s economy depends on students completing post-high school credentials, such as a degree, apprenticeship, or certificate. As our communities realize the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that such credentials are as essential as ever.

Let’s protect funding for higher education and support students today so Washingtonians can earn credentials for a successful tomorrow.

Education beyond high school is as important as ever

In the coming years, the majority of jobs in our state will be filled by people who earn a credential after high school.

Credentials also protect Washingtonians’ careers from changes in the economy, such as the pandemic-induced recession we are experiencing now.

Communities of color, young workers, and those with a high school diploma or less are bearing the brunt of the current downturn. More than half of Black and Latinx households nationwide reported employment loss due to the pandemic. The national unemployment rate in October for workers age 20 to 24 was more than 1.5 times that of workers age 25 to 54.

About two-thirds of workers claiming unemployment in Washington state in November did not have a credential, a 12-percentage point overrepresentation compared to the unemployment rate of non-credentialed workers in the general population.

Young Washingtonians and displaced workers alike will require training and postsecondary education to meet the demands of today’s world

Washington State insured unemployment rate


Unemployment rates in Washington counties and by worker characteristic

Washington State average annual job openings 2017-2022


Credential demand by region

In the coming years, the majority of jobs in our state will be filled by people who earn a credential after high school.

Credentials also protect Washingtonians’ careers from changes in the economy, such as the pandemic-induced recession we are experiencing now.

Washington State insured unemployment rate


Unemployment rates in Washington counties and by worker characteristic

Communities of color, young workers, and those with a high school diploma or less are bearing the brunt of the current downturn. More than half of Black and Latinx households nationwide reported employment loss due to the pandemic. The national unemployment rate in October for workers age 20 to 24 was more than 1.5 times that of workers age 25 to 54.

About two-thirds of workers claiming unemployment in Washington state in November did not have a credential, a 12-percentage point overrepresentation compared to the unemployment rate of non-credentialed workers in the general population.

Washington State average annual job openings 2017-2022


Credential demand by region

Young Washingtonians and displaced workers alike will require training and postsecondary education to meet the demands of today’s world

Slashing funding for post-high school education would cut off an important path to success

Despite the economic necessity of earning a credential beyond high school, far too few Washington students are completing postsecondary education and training. Just 41% of the high school class of 2017 is projected to complete a credential by age 26. Our Black, Hispanic and Latinx, and Native American students are projected to earn credentials at even lower rates:

Washington State high school class of 2017, credential achievement by age 26 (estimated)

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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

Washington voters agree that now is not the time to pull back support for postsecondary education. In a recent statewide survey, 7 in 10 Washington voters across geographic and political lines agree that cutting funding for education beyond high school is a bad idea:

Seven in ten Washington State voters oppose reducing state funding for education after high school

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What’s more: Washington’s public colleges and universities are still recovering from deep cuts made during the Great Recession. They are, and have been, doing more with less in the last decade. Now, with additional costs and revenue losses to core and ancillary services (such as student housing, food, sports and events) because of COVID-19, the ability to help students achieve their educational and career goals is endangered. Maintaining funding is essential to mitigate impacts on students, particularly those furthest from opportunity, and to position the postsecondary system as a driver of recovery.

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

Enabling more Washingtonians to earn credentials will help us recover

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

Studies repeatedly show a credential after high school is one of the strongest predictors of lifetime earnings and other positive outcomes. That means colleges and universities across the state of Washington are a critical part of our state’s pandemic recovery strategy, including addressing inequities for students of color and knocking down barriers to credential attainment.

Some industries will emerge from this crisis in need of an expanded workforce. Already this crisis has highlighted critical workforce shortages — particularly in healthcare and the sciences — that must be addressed through postsecondary education and training at both community and technical colleges and four-year colleges and universities.

Unemployment Rate by Education Attainment

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Washington State's post-secondary institutions opportunities dashboard

WSAC Roadmap Opportunities Dashboard

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

Protect the progress we’ve made

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

In 2019, the Washington State Legislature took historic steps to support Washington students and families by passing the Workforce Education Investment Act (HB 2158). In 2020, the Legislature affirmed that commitment by passing ESSB 6492, fixing technical problems and ensuring a strong financial footing for the programs in WEIA.

Washington College Grant usage by County

Washington College Grant usage by County

WEIA investments include the Washington College Grant, which is available for any student from a family of four making $97,000 a year or less. Because it is a grant, it does not need to be repaid, meaning it makes the difference for thousands of students being able to attend education or training after high school. And this grant is now available to every student who qualifies.

Let’s keep it that way.

The Legislature also provided funding for career connected learning, expansion of child care for students, outreach to support students from low-income backgrounds in obtaining financial aid, and initiatives that better enable students to complete their degree or certificate (such as Guided Pathways).

[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

The way forward: Invest in students’ pathways to success

Many Washington students use and rely on academic advising, food and housing supports, behavioral health care, and tutoring as they work to complete their credential. The current public health crisis has increased the need for student support services. In the College Promise Coalition’s survey of more than 200 students, most cited several support services as the most important factors for successfully completing their credential:

Nearly 3/4: Academic Advising

Nearly 9 in 10: Financial Aid

More than 1/3: Tutoring

A full 1/3: Mental Health Services

The majority of Washington voters agree that additional funding is needed for post-high school education and training. Washington’s colleges and universities are making ambitious commitments to grow enrollment and credential completion. If achieved, these strategies will drive half of the growth in postsecondary enrollment needed to reach our 70% credential attainment goal.

As we look to build a stronger future for all of Washington, investments in student supports like these will help break down barriers — particularly for students from low-income backgrounds, students of color, and students who are first in their family to pursue post-high school education — and enable them to find and succeed on their best-fit pathways to the careers of their dreams.

Rachel, Political Science student at the University of Washington

Denisse, Political Science student at Whitworth University

Expand Pathways

Getting this education while I am in Running Start is important to me because I have the opportunity to have free tuition and get into the work field right after I graduate.

Tyler, Running Start student studying computer science at Big Bend Community College

Washington’s dual-credit programs and career connected learning, which gives students the chance to gain real-world skills and explore careers, will launch more students toward success in 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.

You can explore dual-credit data from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction here.

PHOTO CREDITS:
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.

© 2021 | Paid for by College Promise Coalition

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