People who graduate from college earn more over their lifetimes, are more economically secure, and are more likely to have access to benefits such healthcare or retirement funds. However, complicated student aid applications, expensive student loans, and barriers to housing and childcare prevent low-income students from attending, let alone graduating from, higher education institutions, such as technical colleges, community colleges, or four-year colleges and universities in our state.

College student wearing backpack

Retention and graduation rates for students of color are much lower compared to their white counterparts. Students of color are more likely to be first generation students and come from families who receive a lower income.

With increased funding for state financial aid and retention services invested by the state legislature over the past two legislative sessions, students and their families are now better positioned to afford higher education. However, tuition assistance does not capture the entire cost of attendance nor does it fully address the accessibility issues that exclude many low-income students and students of color from getting a higher education.

 What We’re Doing About It

Poverty Action supports increasing access to higher education and graduation rates for students of color and low-income students in Washington.

  • Protect and increase existing financial aid programs such as the Washington College Grant.
  • Expand financial aid programs that assist students with housing, food, books, transportation, healthcare, and other associated costs.
  • Increase wraparound services that support retention and graduation rates for students of color.
  • Increase the diversity of the student body and of faculty and support staff on college campuses through programs, initiatives, and community outreach focused on communities of color.