Washington State joined the ranks of states on the leading edge of promoting college-going among poor kids today when it announced the creation of the College Bound Scholarship, which is targeted at low-income 7th and 8th graders, guaranteeing to make sure that 100% of the gap in their demonstrated financial need (for tuition & fees) is covered and that they receive $500 for books.
Unlike some other states which shall remain nameless, which have created promise-type programs but guaranteed nothing of real value to the kids, this program has some serious chops. Here’s why:
1. It is a GUARANTEE. The kid who fulfills the terms of the scholarship gets the money, for sure.
2. It is a TARGETED program. It is advertised with a very clear income eligibility chart.
3. The scholarship is MEANINGFUL. It can be used at a private or public in-state school, fills in all tuition and fees not covered by state grants, and goes beyond to provide money for books, and the money is good for up to 4 years so long as it’s used within 5 years of high school graduation.
4. It is PUBLICLY funded. The WA Legislature actually ponied up.
These are all important elements of a good early-commitment financial aid program that are all too often neglected. Serious props to Washington for putting together a program based on research, and packaging it in a way that is simple and accessible. Now, if other states could only follow WA’s lead!