West Seattle, Garfield and Ingraham high schools added to free college program

Seniors at West Seattle, Garfield and Ingraham high schools won’t have to wait for Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s free community-college program to ramp up. An existing scholarship already is set to expand to those schools with help from the city.

Before new Mayor Jenny Durkan vowed to make two years of community college free for all students graduating from Seattle’s public high schools, an expansion of an existing one-year scholarship from three schools to six was already in the works.

Boosted by money in the city’s budgets this year and next, the successful 13th Year Promise Scholarship — which helps make one year of community college free — is set to reach graduates from West Seattle, Garfield and Ingraham high schools in 2018.

The scholarship, which launched in 2008 and has been funded by private donations, provides students with tuition assistance and support services.

It’s currently allowing fresh graduates from Cleveland, Rainier Beach and Chief Sealth International high schools to attend South Seattle College.

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And under a plan set in motion by then-Mayor Ed Murray, city money has now begun paying operational costs to help the scholarship grow, said Ty Swenson, spokesman for South Seattle College.

Participating grads from West Seattle High School will use the scholarship to attend South Seattle College next fall, while grads from Garfield High School will head to Seattle Central College and grads from Ingraham High School will go to North Seattle College.

Durkan wants to build on the scholarship further. She signed an executive order Wednesday as a first step to create what she calls her Seattle Promise program.

The program’s ultimate goal is to offer two years of tuition assistance to every student graduating from each of city’s public high schools.

The mayor still needs to decide how exactly to pay for Seattle Promise’s long-term rollout. Her order directs an interdepartmental team to report back on that by March 8 and calls for a phased-in approach.

Durkan’s program will start next fall by offering a second year of free college to the Cleveland, Rainier Beach and Chief Sealth grads now benefiting from the 13th Year Scholarship at South Seattle College.

There’s enough money allocated in next year’s budget to cover that move and the already-planned…

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