- Associated Press - Monday, March 30, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - A record number of students have applied to Washington’s six public universities this year, including a growing group of applicants from low-income families who would qualify for a state scholarship through the College Bound program.

The Seattle Times reports (https://is.gd/c46vDY ) more than 75,000 students have applied to attend university in Washington state next fall. Most of them are students who are graduating from Washington high schools or transferring from other state colleges.

High school graduation classes have not grown, but college admissions officers say the increase in applications is most likely because students are applying to more places to make sure they get in somewhere.

Some schools saw bigger increases than others. The University of Washington, for example, had a 16 percent increase in applications. They have received more applications from in-state, out-of-state and international students.

One group that has started to show up strongly in application numbers includes the students who qualify for the state’s College Bound scholarship program for low-income students.



In that program, low-income students who sign up in middle school, maintain a C average and stay out of legal trouble are guaranteed to have their tuition covered, as well as some of the cost of college books.

To date, the University of Washington has admitted 86 more College Bound students in its freshman class than it did last year, a 6 percent increase. Western Washington University, which is still making admission decisions, saw an increase of 35 percent in College Bound-eligible applicants. The Evergreen State College saw eligible applicants grow by 26 percent, and Eastern Washington University’s jumped 6 percent. Washington State University is one of the few schools that saw little change.

“All the indicators for that program are positive,” said Philip Ballinger, associate vice provost for enrollment at the UW. He said the promise of going to college tuition-free makes students more likely to take academic work seriously, sign up for challenging classes and take the SAT and other college admissions tests.

WWU wrote to College Bound-eligible students last fall with a letter explaining the process for applying, the benefits they’d receive through College Bound and other ways to finance their education.

“We are very happy to see that the outreach had such a positive impact,” said Clara Capron, assistant vice president for enrollment and student services, in an email.

The scholarship program also seems to be having an effect on high-school graduation. A recent report by the Washington Student Achievement Council showed that 75 percent of College Bound enrolled students in the class of 2014 graduated from high school, compared with 62 percent of their low-income peers who were not in the program.

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Information from: The Seattle Times, https://www.seattletimes.com

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