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Fall 2002

Court rules students may use state grants at private colleges

The Washington State Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the state's Educational Opportunity Grant program, finding that it is not in violation of state constitutional requirements for the separation of church and state.

The decision permits hundreds of students to continue to use state financial aid to attend private, church-related colleges, including PLU.

The 6-3 ruling was issued in June, resolving a 1995 lawsuit contending that universities with a church affiliation should be ineligible to received state support. The court ruled that the EOG program was designed to meet the critical needs of students, not to foster religion or religious worship.

"There were two winners," said Loren J. Anderson, president of PLU. "High-need, place bound students can continue their education at a college of their choice, and taxpayers can ensure an education for these students without the huge expense of adding capacity to the state university system."

The EOG program provides $2,500 annual grants to financially needy students who can only attend a college close to home because of work or family commitments. PLU has 96 EOG recipients enrolled.

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