New student loan program underway with Inslee signature

Laurel Demkovich / The Spokesperson Review

OLYMPIA — Washington must expand a state student loan program for residents under a bill signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday.

The new law requires the Washington Student Achievement Council, along with the Office of the State Treasurer and the State Investment Board, to develop a program that will provide student loans with interest rates of 1% or less to resident students with financial need pursuing education. an undergraduate or graduate degree. Loans will begin to be granted from the 2024-2025 academic year.

The low interest rates will provide a “more affordable financial aid option” for students in Washington, Inslee said Wednesday.

According to the bill, a report must be submitted to the Legislative Assembly on the program’s implementation plan by December 1. The budget passed this year provides $150 million starting in 2023 for the council to begin work on setting up the program, but Inslee said Wednesday that a technical error in the supplementary budget means the work will not be able to. start this year. He said he hoped there would be a fix in the 2023-2025 budget cycle.

The program must prioritize low-income borrowers, according to the bill.

Funds for the program can only be distributed if the design of the program shows that it is self-sustaining and interest rates do not exceed 1%.

The bill was one of the last to pass the Legislative Assembly during the dying moments of the session that ended on March 10. In the final passage, it passed the House 57-40 and the Senate 27-21.

“We have a student loan crisis in Washington state. We have a student loan crisis across the country,” said Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, lead sponsor. “It will relieve thousands of students.”

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