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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Inslee signs bills banning universities from requesting criminal histories, requiring more financial aid information

FILE – EWU archivist Charles Mutschler tells members of a walking tour of the campus about Showalter Hall, the university's main administration building. (COURTESY OF EWU / PHOTO COURTESY OF EWU)

OLYMPIA – Washington’s public college applications won’t ask if a potential student has a criminal record and incoming freshmen will get more information about the cost of financial aid under a pair of bills signed into law Thursday.

College applications joined the Ban the Box effort to give people who have served their time a second chance. A similar bill covering job applications was signed earlier this week.

The Fair Chance to Education Act says a state university, college or community college can’t ask about criminal history on its application. After an applicant is determined to be otherwise qualified for admission, it can ask about criminal history to accept or deny the applicant or to restrict access to campus residence.

Each institution must set up a process that considers the applicant’s age when the criminal activity occurred, the nature of the crime, how much time has gone by and evidence of rehabilitation.

The Student Loan Bill of Rights requires colleges to give information to students about financial aid plans and how to reduce payments. It requires loan servicers to be licensed and sets up a position in the Student Achievement Council to investigate complaints from student borrowers.

Both laws take effect in June.