In-state public university students in Washington may have to shoulder more of the costs of their education than ever before.
This followed after a bill was passed by the Legislature last Tuesday that gives colleges and universities in Washington four years of control over their tuition fees.
This means that the state can enjoy a deregulated tuition system and even double-digit increases in their tuition fees. Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina.
“In a perfect world, we might not want to do this, but we find ourselves not in a perfect world. We find ourselves in a budget crisis like we’ve never faced before. What we’re trying to do with this measure is really maintain the quality of the institutions that we’ve been blessed with here in Washington state.”
The governor says she’ll sign the bill into law. In effect, state four-year schools can start setting their own tuition fee rates this coming school year. They can also raise their tuition fees above a certain threshold but will have to put some of the money to financial aid if they do so. This is what tuition control allows the universities to do.
The primary sponsor of the bill, Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, along with the supporters of the proposal for tuition control, believes that the bill carefully balances quality, affordability, and accessibility.
The tuition control is part of the state’s move to close a $5.3 billion budget shortfall. Furthermore, House and Senate Budget proposals are cutting state funding for higher education over the next biennium by over $600 million.
Opponents, however, of the proposal argue that the bill makes college education inaccessible to Washington families.
“We have now in essence answered that big question: are these public institutions? I think we’re answering no longer are they public institutions,” said Sen. Jim Kastama who is a Puyallup Democrat who joined 12 republicans in voting against the bill.
Photo Credit: Campus Explorer