Washington State lawmakers have taken a major step toward offering free or reduced college tuition using funds from businesses there, including Amazon and Microsoft, in a move that is being applauded by policy analysts for its innovation and reach. Last week, state lawmakers passed the Workforce Education Investment Act , which would raise almost $1 billion over a four-year period with a surcharge on companies that employ highly skilled workers, like accounting, engineering, architecture and consulting firms, and the technology behemoths that operate in the state. The bill, which is before Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, would effectively provide free or reduced tuition for lower- and middle-income students attending community colleges and public institutions, provide new funding for strapped community colleges and eliminate wait lists for financial aid beginning in 2020. "It's a game changer for the state," said Michael Meotti, the executive director of the Washington Student Achievement Council , a state agency that focuses on education. Forty percent of high school students in Washington earn advanced degrees or certifications before age 26, and Mr. Meotti said the measure would "increase college-going success." Full tuition support and fees would be available for students from families of four earning about… Read full this story
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