Whatcom Community College getting the word out

BELLINGHAM — Beginning fall 2019, some Washington state residents can attend Whatcom Community College tuition-free through the Washington College Grant program — really.

The new program is part of the Workforce Education Investment Act, a higher education bill Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law in June. It replaces the State Need Grant and is funded through an increase in the business & occupation tax.

WCC’s annual tuition and fees for 2019 are expected to be $4,103 for a typical 12-credit course load per quarter for three quarters. A family of four with a total income of up to $46,000 would receive $4,108 per student, which is enough to cover WCC’s tuition and fees. A family of two, such as a single parent with one child or a married couple with no children, whose total income is at or below $31,000 will also receive free tuition, as will a single individual whose income is $24,000 or less. Families who earn more than the threshholds are eligible to receive partial college funding on a sliding-scale basis.

Funds that students receive from the program do not have to be paid back, and can be used on expenses other than tuition, such as housing and transportation costs. Grant dollars can be used in coordination with the federal Pell grant or other scholarships. Students can attend WCC part-time or full-time, and can earn more than one degree or certificate.

Beginning in fall 2020, students can receive more money and more families will be eligible.

In order to qualify, WCC students need to be a Washington state resident, demonstrate financial need, enroll in at least three college credits, maintain a 2.0 GPA, complete their degree or certificate within 7.5 quarters, not hold a bachelor’s degree or be in default on a student loan or aid program.

There is no separate application for the program; students who completed the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or WASFA (Washington Application for State Financial Aid) application for 2019-20 are already eligible. Students who have not completed their financial aid applications should do so online at www.whatcom.edu/finaid by the July 19 priority deadline for fall enrollment.

Whatcom’s fall quarter begins Sept. 24. Current students can register for classes now, and new students are encouraged to apply today at www.whatcom.edu.

More information about the Washington College Grant program, including additional family income charts, is available at https://readysetgrad.wa.gov/college/washington-college-grant. This includes specifics about the amount of money WCC students can receive annually.