It has its roots back into the early 2000's, now the state is apparently getting into the student loan business.

House Bill (HB) 1736 creates the WA State Student Loan Program

Long story short, in 2007 and 2019 the state created two different student loan programs, but due to competition from Federal loan programs, and lack of funding, they never really materialized.

Now with the passage of this bill, the Washington Student Achievement Council will oversee this program.$65 million is the cap for the program annually, and an interesting amendment was passed by Democrats (who created the program).  Originally it was limited to only student's college attendance cost, but now it's a need-based program, it doesn't have to be awarded before any Federal or other loans, and it requires the WSAC to contact with state-based financial institutions instead of a credit union. 

Other terms and conditions can be found by clicking here, but it's interesting to read the conditions for qualification. They include:

 "To qualify for a loan issued under the program, a student must be a resident, have a family income at or below the state median family income, be enrolled on at least a half-time basis at a public institution of higher education, and complete a financial aid application. All undergraduate students who meet the requirements are eligible..."

And another interesting requirement:

WSAC must also ensure that institutions of higher education have a policy for prioritizing student loans for eligible students who have greater unmet financial need, are lowest income, are first generation college students, and who have received loans under the program in prior years. (italics added for emphasis).

Our family has first-hand experience with the WSAC. Our son was a 3.991 Salutatorian in HS, an outstanding scholar, and an athlete. But he was not able to utilize any of the WSAC offerings or opportunities due to family income. In fact, one must be almost at or below the poverty line and meet other 'social' criteria to be eligible.

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It appears despite its 'universally-sounding title, the Washington Student Loan Program looks like it will take its place alongside a plethora of other student loan-scholarship opportunities that are NOT available to a LOT of high achieving students because of family income and other requirements.

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