Leading the way on college access and affordability, Sen. Barbara Bailey, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, is exploring creative ways to help Washington college students achieve their higher education goals faster. Senate Bill 6626, establishes a work group that includes representatives from state regional universities to develop best practices aimed at promoting bachelor’s degree attainment in three years.
“We know that the longer it takes students to earn a degree, the less likely they are to graduate,” Bailey said. “In addition to losing time, there are financial implications for students. By providing options for a degree in three years students will save money, lower their debt burdens, and be able to start their professional lives sooner.”
The workgroup is tasked with developing a comprehensive report to the Legislature due at the end of 2016. In the report the group of higher education stakeholders will look at the wider adoption of accelerated degree programs, how those programs work in other states and develop recommendations to increase the number of students attaining a degree in three years.
“I view getting our students to complete their degrees on time or sooner as an economic issue,” said Bailey. “Students are graduating with so much student debt that it hinders their ability to succeed in life. They are putting off major life events such as starting a family or investing in a home. That’s a threat not just to their future economic potential but our state’s. I’m hopeful that this workgroup can find ways we can implement a “Degree in Three” program that meets the educational needs of students while making the best use of their time and dollars.”
The bill is scheduled for a public hearing Feb. 4 at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Higher Education Committee.