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February 14, 2013 at 11:28 AM

UW tuition considered low in new federal College Scorecard

During the State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama promoted a new federal online tool, the College Scorecard, to help students compare colleges and find the ones that give “the most bang for your educational buck,” as the president put it.

That tool went live Wednesday, and Washington users might find some of its analyses curious.

The University of Washington, the state’s most-expensive four-year public school, emerges with the lowest net price of any of the four-years. Its tuition for in-state undergraduates? $8,739 a year. What’s more, the tool says it has decreased .2 percent from 2007 to 2009.

In fact, tuition at the UW this year is $12,400. Between 2007 and 2009, tuition increased 20 percent. The UW’s double-digit tuition increases over the last four years – driven by steep budget cutbacks at the state level — have become a source of political angst in Olympia this session.

The explanation: The scorecard is calculating the net price based on what undergraduates pay after grants and scholarships are taken into account. Because the UW has a high percentage of students on federal Pell grants, the State Need Grant and the UW’s own Husky Promise scholarship, its net tuition price is low.

In fact, 30 percent of UW undergraduate students pay no tuition at all, and another 20 percent receive some financial aid, said UW spokesman Norm Arkans. “There are plenty of students here who pay the full amount, and there are plenty of students who pay zero,” he said.

According to the scorecard, the two public schools with the highest net price in Washington are Washington State University ($15,485) and Central Washington University ($13,775).

Other interesting numbers: The UW leads the state with the highest graduation rate (79.6 percent graduate on-time), while Eastern Washington has the lowest (46.2 percent). Western Washington University has the best student loan default rate (2.7 percent) and The Evergreen State College has the worst  (9.3 percent).

Forty-two schools show up in the four-year degree category for Washington state. Have a look – if you find any other curiosities, let us know.

A screen grab from the College Scoreboard

Comments | Topics: higher education, tuition, University of Washington

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