Office of the President

May 10, 2011

Tuition-setting authority for Washington’s public colleges and universities


Dear Members of the UW Community:

Today, the State Senate added its approval to yesterday’s passage in the House of Representatives of E2SHB 1795, granting Washington’s public colleges and universities the authority to establish their own tuition rates for all students the next several years. This is a landmark piece of bi-partisan legislation. The bill is on its way to the Governor’s desk, where it is expected to be signed into law.

The impetus for this important legislation, of course, was the state’s current economic climate and the withdrawal of state tax dollars from our budget. With the tireless help of many internal and external supporters, the Legislature recognized the need for our universities and colleges to be able to manage our way through tough times in order to meet the needs of our students, the citizens, and our state. We appreciate this expression of confidence by the Legislature to entrust to our Board of Regents the authority to establish tuition rates for all of our students.

This is a responsibility I can assure you we will not take lightly. We understand the financial pressures increasing tuition places upon students and their families. We also recognize the necessity to provide increased financial aid for low and middle income families who cannot afford to pay as much tuition. At the same time, we must enable our faculty to offer the kind of learning experience all UW students expect and deserve. It will take careful planning, consultation, and a fine balancing of interests, but I am confident we will produce a reasonable and fair plan to keep this University strong.

This Friday, May 13, I will be holding the second in a series of community conversations to help keep everyone up to date on the latest developments affecting our University. I will begin with an update on this legislation, followed by plenty of time for Q&A. The details for Friday’s meeting and for a third meeting next week are below.

I want to express the University’s thanks to the Legislature, especially those individual legislators who led the passage of this important piece of legislation. Our financial troubles are not behind us by any means. A lot of work remains to be done. But today, we gained a critical tool to be able to plan, manage, and navigate our way through these difficult times as we work toward an improved economy and brighter days.


Image of Phyllis Wise's signature

Phyllis M. Wise
Interim President