Students rally for more need-grant frunding

By Chloe Wilhelm - Staff Reporter



Student leaders from all over the state pushed legislators this week to help low-income students by fully funding the State Need Grant.

On Feb. 4 and 5, more than 100 students went to Olympia as part of Student Legislative Action Day, an event supported by the Washington Student Engagement Network.

Three Highline students and one alumni attend the event, along with other students from the University of Washington, Seattle University, Pacific Lutheran University, and a wide range of community and technical colleges.

The students arrived in Olympia on Feb. 4, where there was a presentation about the State Need Grant and higher education. The next day, the students split up into groups to talk to legislators.

Vanessa Primer, Highline student government president, said that the event was not a lobbying effort, but instead focused on educating legislators.

"[It was] an opportunity for us to talk about what the State Need Grant means," she said.

During the event, students reached out to more than 50 representatives, senators, and aids. They talked to legislators representing Highline's district, as well as those representing surrounding districts where many Highline students live.

Primer said that the students in her group all depended on the State Need Grant to go to college. She said that three of her group members had the grant taken away last-minute, while two, including herself, ended up struggling with homelessness.

"It's a really scary time," she said. "How do you afford anything?"

She said that due to the lack of funding, students can be forced to drop classes, while some have to drop out of school completely.

Despite the difficulty, Primer said that the event was "very successful," and is hopeful that things may change.

"We really got our message across," she said. "This might just be our year."

Another Student Legislative Action Day is planned for April, for which there is room for more students to attend.

Primer encouraged students to get involved, and said that many Highline students are impacted by the lack of funding for the State Need Grant.

At Highline, Primer said that there are around 3,700 students who receive the State Need Grant, while 600 are eligible but do not receive the grant due to a lack of funding.

She explained that the first number does not include the students who have received the grant, but have later had the grant taken away.

"This is an important issue that effects a lot of students," she said. 

To get involved, students can visit the Center for Leadership and Service or visit their website, https://cls.highline.edu/.  

Students can also contact Vanessa Primer, Student Government President, at vprimer@highline.edu or 206-592-4581, or Astrid Diaz Duenas, Student Government Speaker of the Caucus, at adiazduenas@highline.edu or 206-592-4583.

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