Washington State University President Elson Floyd has proposed tying next year’s tuition increases to the cost of living — an idea that would likely mean some of the lowest tuition increases in years if the proposal was endorsed by the university’s governing board.
Floyd made the proposal to the WSU Board of Regents this week.
Under his proposal, tying tuition to the cost of living is contingent on the Legislature maintaining or exceeding current budget levels for higher education. The proposal will go to a WSU tuition policy committee for review.
In September, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the 12-month change in the Consumer Price Index was 1.7 percent. The number fluctuates monthly.
Like most Washington four-year schools, WSU has raised tuition by double-digit percentages for the last several years to make up the difference in state budget cutbacks to higher education.
Floyd also proposed establishing a $5 million pool of money to give a one-time, two percent payment for faculty and staff who earn less than $100,000 a year. Money for the payments would come from reallocated funds, and most employees who qualify would get about $1,000.
University of Washington spokesman Norm Arkans said the UW has not yet looked at tuition increases for the 2013-14 school year. “For us it is simply too early to adopt any tuition plan for next year when we don’t know what will happen with state revenues, the federal budget, a newly elected governor and legislature,” he said by email.
The UW regents have not formally discussed faculty and staff salaries. However, Arkans wrote that the university “need(s) to do something this next biennium about salaries for everyone, and we’d rather do this through a salary increase.”
Most state employees, including college and university employees, have had their pay frozen for the last four years.
But earlier this year, Western Washington University gave its employees a 5.25 percent raise for the school year, and promised an increase of 4.25 percent for each of the following two years. Department-chair stipends rose 15 percent.
WWU’s move was harshly criticized by Gov. Christine Gregoire, who said it ignored the shared sacrifice that other state employees are making.