Unfunded State Scholarships Frustrate Local Recipients

Sharon Rieger's picture
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Louisa Clark will have to find another way to pay for college and her full-time biotechnology studies because of the state’s indefinite suspension of a 27-year-old scholarship program.

Clark, a Tumwater resident, was one of five students at Bates Technical College in Tacoma who was awarded the Washington Award for Vocational Excellence, known as WAVE.

It should have paid for her last year at Bates and her first year at The Evergreen State College, where she hopes to get a master’s in public administration and environmental studies.

State budget cuts led to the program’s suspension, which means 128 WAVE honorees from around Washington will lose funding for college and, in some cases, their only shot at pursuing higher education.

“Initially I was indifferent,” Clark said. “I was like, ‘Oh that’s too bad.’ In the scheme of things, we all have to make sacrifices.”

However, her frustration grew as her worries of paying for college amplified. She commutes to Tacoma daily to attend Bates while working two part-time jobs and taking care of her 9-month-old daughter.

WAVE started in 1984. Since then, more than 3,000 students have received a scholarship.

A student attending a public technical college was previously awarded up to $3,549; a student attending a public community college was awarded up to $3,135. If a student was attending a four-year university, he or she was awarded $6,081 to $8,592, depending on the university.

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