This act creates a new section in RCW chapter 28B.50 to establish the Emergency Assistance Grant Program in order to provide students of community and technical colleges with monetary aid to assist with unforeseen emergencies or situations that affect the student’s ability to attend classes.
The college board shall administer the grant and establish eligibility criteria, which should, at minimum, include:
- the requirement to demonstrate the need for grant funds;
- ensure that students’ access to emergency aid funds will be as low barrier as possible;
- allow flexibility in which students may apply for emergency aid funds;
- indicate how the college will prioritize the disbursement of funds; and
- use grant funds to provide emergency aid in the form of monetary grants to assist in: food purchases, utility or rent payments, transportations costs, child care, or other goods or services.
The board must begin accepting applications by December 1st, 2019, and submit a report to the appropriate committees of the legislature beginning December 1st, 2020, and every year thereafter.
Sec. 2 of this act finds that excluding students who receive SNAP benefits from purchasing food in institutions of higher education creates a barrier that inhibits students from equal access to food retail establishments.
Therefore, the legislature finds that removing this barrier is vital to assuring equal access and intends to have the DSHS request a waiver from the U.S. Dept of Agriculture to allow students to use their EBT card at on-campus food retail establishments. Furthermore, a new section is added to RCW chapter 43.20A to require DSHS to seek all necessary exemptions and waivers towards this effort.
Updated on 4.12.19:
- Removed the provision stating colleges may not require an application process for students seeking emergency aid, and instead provides that colleges cannot require students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for emergency aid, but colleges must require students request assistance in writing.
- The bill is null and void if funding is not specifically provided in the omnibus appropriations act.
Senate Committee Amendments (updated on 4.10.19):
- Allowed, to the extent allowed by federal law, students who are anticipating participation in the work-study program to qualify for the Washington basic food program.
- Requires DSHS to maintain and regularly update a list of identified programs that are eligible for an exemption from certain federal eligibility rules related to the program increasing a student's employability.
- Requires DSHS, WSAC, and SBCTC to identify options that could confer categorical eligibility for federal assistance programs for students who receive the state need grant and report those options to the appropriate committees of the Legislature by January 1, 2020.
- Requires higher education institutions to provide written notice to state need grant and work-study program recipients of possible eligibility for SNAP and how to apply for it.
Makes technical changes.