Microsoft and Boeing have pledged $50 million to help create a new college scholarship program in Washington State. According to an article by Katherine Long in the Seattle Times:

The program, which was authorized by legislation signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire on Monday and is partly funded with money from the state, will provide as many as 10,000 scholarships of $1,000 apiece when it first begins giving out money this December.

The new scholarship program is designed to help both low- and middle-income students — those whose family incomes are up to $97,500 for a family of four — who are going into high-demand fields such as health care, engineering and science. The program represents $25 million each from Boeing and Microsoft, which will be donated over five years.

The computing company and aerospace and defense corporation agreed to fund the scholarship, which would only apply to Washington students, because “creating a long-term sustainable foundation for higher education is something that is badly needed,” according to Microsoft Vice President Brad Smith. “It’s something no state in this country has done.”

At the same time, however, Gregoire signed legislation allowing the state’s public colleges to set higher tuition. The University of Washington, for instance, is considering raising tuition by more than 16 percent.

Even if a student received a full Opportunity Scholarship (the name of the new Microsoft-Boeing program), that would not offset the increase proposed by the University of Washington, where tuition would increase by more than $1,200.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer