Topic: higher education
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June 28, 2013 at 12:08 PM
Higher education leaders said Friday they were pleased with the proposed legislative budget that bumps higher education funding by 12 percent and freezes tuition for at least a year for in-state undergraduate students.
The proposed budget adds $119 million in funding over two years, plus an extra $18 million to grow computer science and engineering programs at the University of Washington, Washington State University and Western Washington University.
It’s “a significant step forward,” said University of Washington President Michael Young in a statement. He said the budget agreement “will allow the UW to hold resident undergraduate tuition rates at their current levels without compromising the extraordinary quality of students’ educations.”
“The Washington State Legislature has turned an important corner toward re-investing in higher education,” said WSU President Elson Floyd, in a statement. “By far, the most encouraging part is the recognition that we cannot continue to fund higher education on the backs of our students.”
The state’s 34 community and technical colleges also saw a $10 million bump for performance funding, to reward schools that are doing a good job of graduating students.
“I think we did pretty well — we’re reasonably happy with everything,” said Marty Brown, executive director of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.
Both two- and four-year schools will be prohibited from raising tuition for the 2013-14 school year. They have the option of raising tuition for 2014-15, but if they do so, they’ll be required to set aside more money for financial aid.
At the UW, the $8.9 million in new money for engineering and computer science will help grow programs that are bursting at the seams. Many applicants are turned away from those programs every year because they are full.
Margaret Shepherd, director of state relations for the UW and a ubiquitous presence in Olympia during the legislative session, said the tide toward more higher education funding seemed to turn as legislators became more aware of how budget cuts over the economic downturn have caused tuition rates to rise.
The state has cut university funding by about 50 percent since 2009, and Washington now ranks near the bottom among all states in per-student funding. In response to the cuts, Washington colleges and universities raised tuition by double-digit amounts for four straight years.
June 27, 2013 at 1:17 PM
Sen. Barbara Bailey said Thursday morning that the Legislature is very close to agreeing to the details of a higher-education budget that would increase funding by 10 percent and freeze tuition for the next two years.
Bailey made her comments around the same time that other legislative leaders announced a tentative deal on the overall $33.6 billion two-year state budget.
The Oak Harbor Republican, who heads the Senate Higher Education Committee, said she did not think that the higher-education deal would take away tuition-setting authority for the institutions, meaning that their governing boards could still vote to raise tuition. But, she said, “we are hopeful we’ll have agreements on raising tuition” from the institutions.
Bailey would not put a dollar figure on the amount of higher-education funding, although she did say it was somewhere above 10 percent more than ”maintenance level,” or the level the universities say they need to receive just to maintain services as-is. The maintenance level for 2013-15 is $1.04 billion, suggesting that the deal would allocate at least $104 million more for higher education.
Before the session began, the state’s six four-year institutions requested $225 million in new money, a 20 percent increase, and said they would freeze tuition if they received an increase of that size.
“This would be the first time in 27 years we’ve not had a tuition increase,” Bailey said. “That is hugely important for middle-class families in particular. From all the data we’ve been gathering, by the time you put tuition, student housing, fees and books and everything together, the average family can’t afford to send their child to college in this state without some kind of help financially, or going into debt.”
Bailey said the deal includes about $18 million to grow programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). She said the additional money would stabilize the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program, which bases its payouts on tuition rates and is currently underfunded.
She also said that a controversial proposal to raise about $50 million by adding a 20 percent surcharge to international student tuition is “still being discussed,” although she noted that “there’s not been a warm welcome to that.”
Bailey said she fully expects a deal by Friday, and “we may have something by the end of the day today.” But she said things are in flux right now.
“Evidently, the jello has not stuck yet to the wall,” she said.
May 6, 2013 at 1:28 PM
When Gov. Jay Inslee fired four members of the Washington Student Achievement Council earlier this year, the big question for surprised university officials and lawmakers became who the governor would choose to replace them.
Inslee answered that question Monday, announcing a slate of appointments that includes the recently-named National Teacher of the Year and the president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
“With this new council we have a great opportunity to rethink how we work with the business community to help students access the training and education they need to be successful and attain the knowledge and skills that our employers demand,” the governor said in a news release.
The council, formed last August as a replacement to the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board, oversees the state’s college and university systems and is currently writing a road map for higher ed.
It is made up of five gubernatorial appointees, who include the student member, plus representatives from the state K-12 education office, the four-year universities, the community colleges and private schools.
Inslee’s decision to replace all of his non-student appointees surprised many, in part because they included a former colleague in Congress, former U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, and in part because it happened while the nomination process was already under way.
Here are the new appointees, who must be approved by the state Senate:
– Jeff Charbonneau, a math and science teacher at the Yakima Valley’s Zillah High School who was recently named National Teacher of the Year.
– Maud Daudon, a former Seattle deputy mayor and chief of staff from 1998 to 2001, who currently serves as president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Daudon also spent six years as chief financial officer for the Port of Seattle and served on Inslee’s transition team.
– Karen Lee, the CEO of Pioneer Human Services, who served five years as commissioner of the Washington State Employment Security Department.
– Dr. Susana Reyes, the assistant superintendent of the Pullman School District since 2006, who will join the Mead School District in July.
The four replaced members were Baird; former Seattle Community College District Board Chairwoman Constance Rice; former state Academic Achievement and Accountability Commission chairman José Gaitán; and Jay Reich, former deputy chief of staff to Gary Locke when he served as Commerce secretary in the Obama administration.
March 19, 2013 at 11:44 AM
This post was updated at 12:12 p.m.
By Mike Baker
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — A group of Washington state senators vowed Tuesday to increase funding for higher education by $300 million but declined to say how they would get the money at a time when lawmakers are already struggling to balance the budget.
Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner, who developed the plan supported by a GOP-dominated coalition, said it is possible to write a budget that balances state spending while increasing funding for state colleges and universities. He said it will be a matter of prioritizing where government dollars go.
“We’re going to make higher education a priority,” Baumgartner said.
Senate leaders declined to explain how they would pay for the proposal. Lawmakers already face more than a $1 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget cycle and are separately under court order to expand funding for K-12 education.
The senators also propose to require a 3 percent reduction in tuition for in-state students. They also say this will help manage the long-term financial concerns in the state’s prepaid tuition program.
Under the plan, $50 million of the new higher education money would be awarded to schools based on metrics, such as the number of undergraduates in degrees such as science or engineering, the retention rate of first-year students and the average time it takes to complete an undergraduate degree.
March 6, 2013 at 3:18 PM
“Regardless of the past actions that led to undocumented students arriving in our state, we have the opportunity to affect their future and ours. Our state has the ability to change the outcome of their stories and give them the tools they need.”
That statement, urging support for legislation in Olympia to allow undocumented immigrant students access to state financial aid, could easily have been lifted from the brochure of some immigrant advocacy group.
Instead it was included in a recent op-ed piece in the Yakima Herald by two Republican lawmakers from Eastern Washington – Reps. Bruce Chandler and Charles Ross.
True, Republican support for immigration isn’t new or even all that surprising, particularly in this state and in light of the results of the November elections. But the evolution of House Bill 1817 is still worthy of note.
A year ago, the same bill didn’t get a single hearing.
Last month, more than 100 people who signed up to testify on it in two House committees and not a single voice was raised in opposition.
A total of eight Republicans – many, though not all, from the state’s immigrant-dependent farming areas – voted in favor of the bill. Chandler and Ross are included among the bill’s 32 sponsors.
And there is other evidence of Republican support on immigration.
On Tuesday, more than 40 groups announced formation of a compact to push for immigration policy changes in Congress.
Included among supporters are former Republican Congressman Sid Morrison, Dale Foreman, a former state lawmaker, former chairman of the state Republican Party and one-time Republican candidate for governor. Former state Republican Party chairman Chris Vance is one of the group’s spokespeople.
Of course, House Bill 1718 is far from a fait accompli.
While supporters say they feel confident it could survive the upcoming floor vote in the House, the Senate, controlled by a Republican-led caucus, could be another story entirely.
February 8, 2013 at 4:00 PM
This post has been updated to include new information
A two-year-old bit of legislation allowing state universities to charge variable tuition rates for different majors may be headed for a quick demise.
Late Thursday, the House Higher Education Committee voted unanimously to end the so-called “differential tuition.” The bill, House Bill 1043, now goes for a vote before the full House on Monday, said state Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, who heads the higher ed committee.
State four-year schools gained the authority to charge differential tuition in 2011 so they could support and grow high-demand programs, like computer science, engineering and business. Those programs often cost more to run because they require small-group mentoring by faculty, and because professors in those programs often command higher salaries — they’re in big demand in the marketplace.
The only problem: If the University of Washington charged more for a computer science degree, the state’s prepaid college tuition program’s payout would have to be raised to match that program’s tuition. That’s because the Guaranteed Education Tuition program is pegged to the highest undergraduate, in-state tuition among public colleges.
GET is already underfunded by about $600 million. The new payout would have greatly exacerbated the problem.
“We need, for GET, to shut that (differential tuition) program down,” said Seaquist, who said his bill has bipartisan support.
The differential tuition legislation was suspended last year, so none of Washington’s six four-year colleges has ever charged extra for certain degrees. The only school that said it was interested in doing so was the UW.
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