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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: tuition

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May 5, 2014 at 5:00 AM

State’s tuition hike in recession was nation’s second-highest

It will come as no surprise to many college students and their parents, but Washington’s public four-year colleges had the second-largest tuition hike of any state in the nation during the recession.

A new report puts the increase in perspective: In inflation-adjusted dollars, Washington raised tuition by $4,085 between 2008 and 2014, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Only one state, Arizona, hiked tuition by a higher amount. When adjusted for inflation, the increase amounts to a 60 percent jump in tuition.

Before the recession, Washington’s public four-year universities were a relative bargain. But when the recession hit, Washington lawmakers cut hundreds of millions of dollars in state support from public universities to balance the state budget. The four-year schools froze faculty salaries and laid off hundreds of people, but they also raised tuition by thousands of dollars to make up for the shortfall.

Lawmakers did restore about 15 percent of the lost funding in the 2013 legislative session, and then froze tuition for two years at all state colleges and universities, including community colleges. That tuition freeze will end when the 2014-15 academic year is over. And that makes Washington one of the few states in the nation where tuition can be said to have declined between 2013 and 2014, after inflation is factored in.

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April 2, 2014 at 5:00 AM

New law should alleviate some tuition surprises

M. Ryder / Op Art

M. Ryder / Op Art

A new state law requires the state’s four-year universities and colleges to do a better job of notifying students if their program is going to become fee-based, which usually causes a spike in tuition costs.

It also requires administrators to work with students and create clearer criteria for which programs fit into the fee-based category.

The law, signed by Gov. Jay Inslee last week, stems from a controversy that arose more than a year ago when the University of Washington moved a number of graduate programs into the fee-based category.

Fee-based programs are not subsidized by state funding, and students bear the full cost of the program. When a program becomes fee-based, students in that program often aren’t eligible for some types of financial-aid assistance.

Some academics say the switch to fee based is symbolic of a philosophical shift — a belief that higher education, and especially graduate degrees, benefit only the people who receive the training, and not society as a whole.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher ed, tuition, University of Washington